Monday, January 21, 2013

Everything is fine

Everything is fine. Really. I promise. Who doesn’t love Paris?

I find myself repeating the same words time and time again. For 4 months now I have been repeating these words, monotonously but with a gracious smile, as if someone were pulling a string from my wooden puppet back.
We found a beautiful apartment in the 16th as well as a private nursery school in the neighborhood. The area is lovely but a tad Upper-East-Side-Esque-meets-Stepford-wives. I suppose that, technically, people are polite but their excusez-moi is forced and rarely accompanied by a smile. Rather, they tend to say excusez-moi with pursed lips and an accompanying poof-boof-oh-la-la sort of shrug and a toss of perfectly coiffed hair that matches, of course, their purse and shoe ensemble that, of course, matches their cashmere and fur lined sweater set. And it is perfectly acceptable to bark orders to a stranger on the street. Next time someone barks at me I think I will just stand and stare, perhaps even smile. A strange, evil smile can be very intimidating, no?
The irony is that I do not look wildly different from the other women on the street aside from the fact that I opt for red rather than pink lips. According to a French friend, I am too friendly and set myself up for disappointment and attack. Like a vulture smells the vulnerability associated with gangrene?
What a cynical way to live though.
Safe away in my enclave, our apartment is all unpacked. I suppose that my compulsive-organizational-obsession-disorder was revealed to all and I managed (with my mother’s help) to organize our apartment. However, one problem remains: since the apartment is not modern, the cupboards are long and deep so they are totally impractical unless you are 7 foot tall with 5 feet long arms. As a result, I have needed to be very crafty and practical in organizing and so our linens are stored in the dining room closet, and my shoes are stored in the office cupboards next to Cedric’s wooden train set. As a side note, how did I accumulate so many pairs of shoes?
The mid-life crisis-puff-daddy-comparable-to-a-red-Porsche barbque has been relegated to the guest room until it can be sold. Note to guests: it is forbidden, even under the influence of alcohol-love-or-hunger, to use this monstrous machine for the preparation of meat-dessert or otherwise.
Organizing is one thing but maintenance is another. I am trying to rummage a bit of help at home. I have decided that I do not enjoy ironing, washing, loading and unloading, chopping, blending, folding, cleaning and vacuuming. Who enjoys this really? The pain associated with standing in front of the ironing board is diluted by Glenn Close in the season finale but the cost of paying someone 10Euro an hour to iron is more painful. Perhaps I can turn housework into a game and invest in a French maid costume? Perhaps I will only wear spandex going forward since it is a material that needs no ironing.
I have been feeling nostalgic for fieldwork in Africa as of late. Did I think about ironing or did I think about project deliverables? Did I worry compulsively about the dust mites under the bed or did I worry about the impact of financial planning on our projects? I feel a bit tired, as though I have lost my direction and think about the dreams and plans that used to inspire me. I never wanted to have a house with a white picket fence and I never wanted to have an office job.  

I turn off the computer and wander into a coffee shop. I glimpse at myself in the mirror and I am sad to find that I look gaunt, tired, and overall gray. But I am welcomed with a bit of kindness- despite my outwardly aged appearance the barman smiles broadly and greets me with an emphatic "Bonjour Mademoiselle." A friend once told me that if I want to drown my sorrows then the bathtub should be filled with cognac and not to forget my snorkel. 


  1. Hi (waving) from another friendly Message blogger. :-) I'm here:

    I relate - I so relate to not wanting the white picket fence and office job. We do have a white picket fence - finally after a 12 years of marriage - or at least a grey concrete one. But we also worked in East Africa for a year and lived in Manhattan and I get you. Now my husband has crazy hours at his office job.

    Well I'm rambling a little but I just wanted to say hi. And bienvenue!

  2. Hello and thank you so so much for your comment! I am new to blogging so still trying to figure out how to post. Your site is great - I will need to get your advice for hosting etc!
    Where in East Africa were you?