Paris, partie deux

Ok, so where was I? Ah: safely back from London laaaaaaate Monday night, I did not relish getting up at 7:30 Tuesday morning for our cooking class with Paule Caillat, but I did, and we had a great day learning to make cheese souffle, poulet normandaise, and tarte tatin, as well as making a delightful new friend, Karen, who lives in Canberra. Once again, we walked our feet off, taking a 2 1/2 hour jaunt to Paule's house (because our map didn't show street numbers so we took the waaaaaaaaaaay long way over to Rue du Temple, where she lives & works), and walking all around after the cooking class, learning to shop the Parisian way. So fun. SO fun!!! Had dinner Chez Diep, which I didn't enjoy much: it was Chinese, sort of dim-sum-y, and everything was jussssst a little undercooked and not quite hot enough. Bleah. We did, however, sit at a table next to a completely hot French DILF-type fellow, dining with his sons and mother. Yow. Most French men that we saw, I'd like to note, were puny in the extreme. Amy at 5'6 1/2" and even I at 5'5" just towered over them. Not so sexy.

Wednesday was our loaf-about-like-slugs day, since we slept 'til 11:30, zut alors! I raced out to meet Jacqueline and Amy raced out to get her hair cut at Alexandre, over on Avenue de Matignon. We met Karen at Notre Dame at 3:00 and spent the afternoon and evening waaaaalking walking walking and doing a bit of shopping. Had dinner at a decent little Italian place after the brasserie at which we'd asked to have dinner reservations that night turned out not to be where Marilynn had said, so we missed it entirely -- grrr! Paris by night is extra beautiful, though, I must say.

On Thursday we went to Galeries Lafayette after visiting the Opera House and shopping on Rue de la Paix, and shopped a little more, then I went and met my work friend, Leo, who works in our Paris office (he spent years in CA in international marketing, left the company for awhile, and now is back, seemingly enjoying himself), for coffee. It was really great, again, to just speak French and switch to English, and back again, fluidly. Plus it really threw the girls next to us who were eavesdropping shamelessly -- baaahahahahaha! We had a great dinner that night at Le Pamphlet, which you should really try if you find yourself in Paris. Delicious, and really first-class service (which, let's not kid ourselves, you don't always get in any big city, Paris not excepted!).

Friday was (stop me if you've heard this before) again largely a shopping day, although we went to the Arc de Triomphe which I love. We walked, as usual, for hours, but we also took the Metro, which was cool. After a frustrating day trying to get back in touch with Karen, we finally made contact and met her at Le Market for dinner, then Amy went back to the hotel and Karen and I walked allllllllllll the way to the Eiffel Tower, arriving at 11 just in time to see it twinkle like mad, an extravaganza that they've done on the hour at night since the millenium celebration there -- it's gorgeous but unfortunately my camera didn't capture it worth shit. Bummer, man, but hey, at least I've got the memory to sustain me!

Well, that's it, my chickens: the whole tour. Scroll down to read of our Saturday and Sunday adventures, because, yes indeed I published out of order. Tough it.


Ahhhh, Paris!!!

Yes, yes, I know it's out of order to talk about the vacation after I've described the horrors of getting home, but gimme a break: I'm scarcely sleeping 6 hours a night, and you know I need a full 8 or I'm an ogre!

We arrived in Paris Saturday September 17 right on schedule. Got to the
hotel (very nice, if I do say so myself!) (no, I didn't build it, but I picked it), checked in to our super cozy plush room, unpacked, and took a nap for about 2 1/2 hours -- yeah, we know we should have stayed awake: sue us. We left the hotel at 5 for an 8:00 dinner reservation, after showering and unpacking, and walked for about two hours, stopping every which where to look at things and see what we might buy! Had a decent dinner at Chez Lena et Mimile, talking for most of the meal with a couple, coincidence of coincidences, from San Francisco.

Sunday was an early day, since we got picked up at 9 by our driver and guide and went off for a day at Versailles and Giverny. Beautiful day, as was the rest of the week, so we didn't need any of the fall clothes we had with us except a sweater to keep on when it got breezy. Our guide was very nice and extremely knowledgeable (as well as bilingual, which worked out well for everyone) but turned out to be a bit of a racist regarding the influx of Chinese tourists who've inundated Paris since China started issuing visas about a year ago (letting them come soak in the decadence of France). Some ill-advised comments issued from Jocelyne, which was all the more odd since a) she knew we were from SF and b) as Amy said, either of us could have been married to someone Chinese (not to mention c) just offended in general by casual racism!). We had a great dinner at Restaurant Georges, at the top of the Pompidou Center, with a stunning view across the whole city from Ile St Louis across to Montmartre, right at sunset. Gorgeous. Oh, and some French bloke told me he loved me. I disregarded it. Bet he says that to all the girls.
(Had a great conversation about xenophobia vs. racism with our cab driver on the way back to the hotel, just one of a bunch of conversations I had during the week, entirely in French, which may I say makes every single one of the agonizing 13 years I spent learning the language TOTALLY and COMPLETELY worth it now that I'm fluent?!!!!)

I spent Monday in London, walking walking walking and visiting the Tate Modern and some antique shoppes (bought Bryan a fabulous little pen and ink drawing done in 1781), got stranded for about an hour on a stopped Eurostar on the way back to Paris -- and let me say this: the French antipathy for deodorant does not mix well with a warm Indian summer evening in a train whose a/c has been turned off, ok??? -- but I whiled away the time e-mailing with HF and Dan and Rob and Russ. A note about trans-continental technology, by the way, and then I'll abbreviate this post 'til later today: the BlackBerry RULES, y'all, as does (surprisingly) T-Mobile, because it has these reciprocal relationships with satellite providers (or whatever, like I know from technology details, right?) and phone companies so that the entire week, I had both e-mail and phone capability without interruption! (Ok, there was the slight problem of running out of juice on the very last [extra] day, but that was entirely my fault since I didn't friggin' bother to check the box my device had come in, and therefore failed to find the FRENCH PLUG ADAPTER they include with the thing, along with a UK/Western Europe adaptor, even. Oy.)

More later....


Misadventures: mes aventures

Thaaaaat's right, it's 4 in the g.d. morning. Again. Welcome to jet lag, dear readers, and plenty of it. I get tired at 8:30, stave off sleep 'til 10, thinking, "Oh, if I go to bed at 10 I'll sleep 8 hours and be ready for the day at 6" -- HAH!!! My circadian whatsit has other plans for me, as, apparently, does my bladder. I get up, glance at the clock which taunts me with its numbers of redness that say it's 3 full hours before the alarm will go off, go tinkies, and try in vain to fall back to sleep before 6. Curses!!

However, since I'm here and since I'm up, I figured I'd draft a little something that I can come back and proofread later. I'm sure you're all interested in the details of the trip to Paris itself, but they have for the moment been supplanted by our near miss (or our near near-miss) attempting to get home on Saturday....

Our United flight from CDG to SFO (and for me, on to SNA) was supposed to leave Paris at 11:15 a.m. Saturday, September 24, arriving in San Francisco that afternoon at 2 -- don'tcha just love that wacky time zone thing?? We ultimately ended up on Air France to Dulles, to separate and fly to LAX (me) and SFO (Amy), not leaving Paris 'til 4:45 p.m. Sunday afternoon, arriving on the west coast at about 12:30 a.m. Monday. "Sacre bleu!" you say. "Did you miss your flight?! Were you too fat after a week in Paris to get on the plane?!" No to both of your questions, even the impertinent last one. [Kindly note that we spent between 4 and 8 hours a day walking in Paris, so even if we'd eaten 6 meals a day rather than the 2 we did, we'd have come home trimmer than we left!]

No, friends, what happened was this: Our flight was delayed some 2 1/2 hours. This wasn't really a problem since we whiled away the time in the Red Carpet Lounge (yay, United!!) and Amy napped while I started a beautiful spring green scarf. Talked to strangers, got flirted with by men nearly as old as my dad, etc. Boarded UA925 at 1:45, got the safety briefing, settled in for our 11-hour trip home.... at 2:00, we were in full takeoff mode, blasting down the runway at 160 knots p.h. or whatever, literally at the point of slipping the surly bonds of earth, when the pilot SLAMS ON THE BRAKES, reverses the engines, flings the flaps to upright stopping position, etc. HOLY CRAP! As this is happening, I glance past Amy out the window and see the French fire engines (pompiers, for you linguists), streaking toward the plane with all lights ablaze. {I would like to note here for those of you who've not been to France that their fire engines are white. No offense, but white does not scream "emergency" to me -- it sort of screams "hygiene incident" instead, which is sort of, you know, less urgent, all things considered. But I digress.}

And speaking of ablaze, it turns out that our brakes or landing gear are ON FIRE, thanks to our abrupt arrest on point of takeoff. So the little (more on that later) French firemen (or firepersons) leap from their flashing white trucks and trundle hoses out and spray the plane's belly with foam and water and run around a lot. Much spraying, much running, and we're all sitting there wondering, frankly, whether we're going to blow up. Because, you see, fire + enough jet fuel to get us 6000 miles = potential conflagration, as I understand it. Did I say "HOLY CRAP"? Yeah. Ok. Just checking.

Anyway, obviously, all's well that ends well, since I'm sitting on the yoga ball typing out the tale rather than rapping it out to you on a Ouija board or something, but suffice it to say that it took something resembling the greatest effort of my life to get me on not one but TWO planes the following day, after spending the night at the Holiday Inn Roissy Charles de Gaulle. Nevertheless, after Amy and I discussed the logistics of driving or boating home, we trusted the fates and laws of averages to get us home safely on Sunday. Which we both did, along with all our strangely heavy luggage.

I'll tell the tale of the week in Paris tomorrow morning -- prolly around this same damned time! For now, I'm going to join the slumbering giant for another hour of shuteye.


Merry Olde Englande & vive la France

Greetings from the Eurostar terminal at Waterloo station, kind readers. Just popped over from Paris for the day, which I spent very enjoyably, but now I must say I'm looking forward to sitting on my arse for the next three hours, having spent the past 7 & 1/2 on my feet. I'll tell you what, people: you hoof it in Paris and London -- perhaps this is why these cities seem so much like NY to me.
Anyway, more soonest, once I find an Internet cafe in Paris, if there is such a thing -- I cannot type on this phone kiosk-y thing. Je vous embrasse.


Au revoir, mes amis!!

We're off to Paris, Amy and me, on our grand tour! For 10 1/2 years we've talked about going to Europe together, no husbandses, no kidses, and now that she doesn't have the former (anymore) and I don't have the latter (yet), off we go, Bryan, Will & Andrew left behind to miss us and hope we bring them presents! Love, love, kiss, kiss, a bientot and all that. Maybe Paris will have the plethora of Internet cafes that NZ, Sydney, and London have, and I'll write while I'm gone, but don't hold your breath. Don't worry: I still love you.

J'espere que vous vous amusez bien durant mon absence, et je vous souhaite bonne chance. Je vous embrasse.


You found a what?!

As someone who hopes in the not-too-distant future to join the Mommy Brigade herself, I think it's a good sign that I found this hilarious rather than revolting:

IM from Diane: "I got to the bottom of a drink I was sharing with Audrey and didn't stop before I got the chunk. Ewwwwwwwww."

Man, don't share your drinks with the under-12 set, is what.

(Turned out to be part of a Pepperidge Farm Goldfish cracker, by the way.)


Can you say BUSTED?

Here's a little tidbit on a new site I think should grow very popular in very short order, sadly. Well, happily if one of the cheaters you catch is the hot new thang you thought you'd take on....

Eye for an eye

Maybe it's because I'm not a member of the "turn the other cheek" faith, but it seems to me that the fit punishment for these people would be that they have to live in a 3 1/2 foot tall cage until they too weigh just 49 pounds apiece.

Too much? Too little. You decide. Let me know.



Wake, twist, stretch and crack
Wriggle, scootch, roll and unfold
Hello thirty-eight.

That's my a.m. haiku. Maybe I should take up yoga. Really.


Uncharitable observations

All righty, then. We gave money to the Red Cross that was matched by each of our employers, and I've raised $2000 for the Susan G. Komen foundation (e-mail me if you want to know how you can help the Race for the Cure!), so with all that goodness and mercy, there has to be a little balance.... Here, therefore, some observations for my fellow denizens of Southern California:

Hey, "URR 2SLO" navy blue low-rider pickup truck-drivin' guy: it's "YOU'RE", you moron, not "YOUR", in the phrase "If your driving too slow, get out of the way", plastered in huge letters on the back of your tricked-out truck. Listen, my semi-literate compadre, believe me when I say I absolutely agree with the sentiment (although not, perhaps, with your bullshit, no-turn-signal-usin' lameass driving style that endangers people on the toll road who are already going 80, brother), but you'd do yourself a world of good (you and all your fellow poor grammarians and lousy spellers) if you indulged in a little spellcheck before proving to the world that you're an assclown. Thank you.

Hi there, 60-ish woman in the dusty rose bebe tracksuit with "bebe" spelled out in hot pink rhinestones on your non-existent but none-too-toned hindquarters. Listen: I can see that you're clinging with every acrylic nail and capped tooth to your fading youth, what with the bleached hair and the Botox and the painfully collagened lips and the 4 hours at the gym every day, and I feel for you -- hell, I'm a good twenty-five years behind you and already lamenting my lost elasticity and wondering what the hell all those noises are when I'm creaking my way out of bed in the morning (I'm hoping most of them are coming from the 47-year old half of the couple, to be quite frank), but honey, please. PLEASE. Jessica Simpson can have stuff written across her bootay, and that's where it ends. Here are the rules, and, really, they're a matter of public decency: you must be between the ages of 18 and 24, max, and be built like what I believe is called a brick shithouse in order to get away with directing any attention to the posterior, not least asking people to read your ass. This goes quadruple for anyone contemplating emblazoning theirs with "Juicy", although that does get the Jennifer Lopez exception to the 18-24 rule, 'cause sugar, she might be 36, but that Fly Girl is still SUPAH FLY. iAy, mami, caliente!!

Note to the multitudinous vanity-plate owners in California (of whom I am a proud member, sporting SOX 4EVA in a BoSox chrome frame, thank you): please try not to annoy with your choices. Dana and I have weekly calls requesting "permission to ram" such gagsome vessels as bear such affronts as "DR2BME" ("Dare to be me" -- as Diane says, "No thanks.") and "MR HI IQ" (whose plate was on about a thousand-year old Toyota Camry, so apparently his intelligence doesn't extend to a) ways to make money or b) automobile safety considerations). Stick to cleverness like "IML8ML8" on a white Rabbit (please tell me you get that), and "BEYOND" on a blue Horizon, as well as "2TH MOVR" (Cindy's orthodontist has that one) and "52 WK HI" (on a Boxter, in the Silicon Valley boom days, which I thought was cute but Dana wanted to ram). Kindly avoid being a pneumatically-enhanced bleached blonde in a Mercedes convertible with "BARBDOL" spelled with a star for the A and a heart for the O, because, frankly, I'll take the insurance premium hike just for the pleasure of bashing your plate in.


I love you, honey bunny!!!

Happy fourth anniversary, Bryan. Thanks for being my buddy on the big adventure.... And for putting up with me.


Wedding pic

Here's the pic we had in the slideshow yesterday. Lisa Lefkowitz was our photog, and she's phenomenal; if you happen to get married anywhere near San Francisco, book her. She's really incredible.

Congratulations, Kris & Mike!!!

Our friends Kristina and Mike got hitched yesterday evening in Laguna Beach, in a very sweet, very brief ceremony in the fading daylight at 7 Degrees, a multi-media art gallery and event space. They looked gorgeous and were deliriously happy, as was everyone in attendance. They had a great reception at the gallery, whose specialty is multi-media presentations, so they had filmed an MTV cribs spoof (the highlight of which was the camera pan over Kris's "posse," her mom (Julie) and grandma (Toshiko), who said, "Wassup?" when the camera stopped on her. NICE. They also did a slideshow containing wedding pictures of all their married wedding guests (yep, we obligingly submitted a pic; I'll post it) that ran in a loop throughout the reception. They also did a show thanking their wedding party, using all the pix they could find from a lifetime spent with these friends and family -- very touching -- as well as a pictoral tribute to Kris's late grandpa George. Oh! And they did an "E! True Hollywood Story" narrated with panache by Kris's cousin Rob, who's the ABC sports guy down here -- suuuuper funny. Great presentations, very imaginative, and a wonderful showcase for their senses of humor (as well as pix of some of the biggest hair and glasses you've ever seen in your life).

We took a couple of cute pix, but I'll only publish this cropped one 'til I get permission from our friends!

This will be good to use in our anniversary book, too -- wow! Four years come Friday!!



It's official: I'm mad about my eyebrows. Got the new specs, which you've seen (kindly ignore the Nose that Ate Tokyo), and decided that since they're so bold and straight across what would be the Unibrow of the Century if left to its own devices, I needed to get in and groom the F outta that business. So now I'm at my arches with a tweezer every blessed day.... The pictures will tell the tale, come Sunday night. (Gotta get purty for Kris & Mike's nuptials, what what.) (Actually, come to that, it makes me wonder why people dress up for weddings: ain't nobody there to look at you, after all. It's all about the bride & groom, and the love, and the hoo ha. And yet, we sure do, don't we? Dress the HELL up to go to weddings. Interesting.)

Let me hasten to say there's nothing whatsoever with having a Bert brow. I like Bert. Really! Personality-wise, I'm probably more Ernie or Grover, but I'm a big fan of Bert's. Now there's a question for the masses (which is to say, the dozens): with which Muppet do you most closely identify, and why? [Spelling counts, as does the degree to which your answers entertain me and enlighten the dozens.]