A San Diego native who has lived in New York, Barcelona, Bucharest, Boston, London, and Paris... now based in Brooklyn. Wife to a Frenchy, "mom" to a mutt. I like taking pictures, making movies, writing stories, and riding bikes. Oh and social media.
Behind-the-scenes at a M∙A∙C Special Presentation with Peter Robb-King.
“Make up can’t be said to last forever but the film images do and it was a privilege to share and show them once again.” -Peter Robb-King, speaking about demonstrating looks he designed for The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Matrix Revolutions.
Apologies for the extended blogging delay. When I started this blog, it was all about my experience at IESE Business School and living in Barcelona. Then I finished school and it was still about living in Barcelona and a bit about IESE since Frenchy was still studying there. Then we moved to France and it was about being an American in France, but I had less and less to say because more and more of my time was consumed by work, and work is one of the areas I just won't write about.
Then we moved back to New York, my old stomping grounds, and sure I have loads of funny stories to tell about day-to-day life here married to a crazy Frenchman... but still, most of what I share online these days is about videos or photos I come across that are worth sharing, or about our pup Ellie, or about weird conversations I have with Quentin.
I haven't even written properly about our wedding. Or the process of buying our first home. Or our trips to Turkey, Venezuela, and Tahoe. There just hasn't been enough time.
But truth be told, I miss it. And even more importantly, I still do it. So that's what this post is all about. To tell you where to find me even when I'm not regularly updating the blog. Exciting, isn't it? So here we go:
You can follow my random 140-character musings on Twitter. And check out my photos on Flickr. You can check out my microblog on Tumblr. And if you want to work with me (and really, who wouldn't?), you might want to first look me up on LinkedIn. Need a simpler place to see everything at once? Hop over to my Flavors.me page, where it's all in a tidy package.
Working from home today as a major blizzard hits NYC, and after 7 hours sitting at my laptop in my underpants at the kitchen table, I decided it was time to get some fresh, snowy air. Not in my underpants...
My friend Lauren showed me this yesterday, and I think I've now watched it six or seven times. Can't jam with your friends because they're all in different countries? No problem. Some webcams can do the trick.
I need to remember this when Frenchy and I are sad about our band being spread all over the globe.
Over the past several months, I've slowly indoctrinated Frenchy into the ways of American football. Or, as we call it, football. And I'm impressed by how he has taken to it. He even commented, after one game, "Soccer players are such pussies. They barely get touched and they roll around on the ground. Football players get hit like crazy and just bounce up and keep going."
He also impressed me by cooking dinner one Sunday evening while I sat on the couch drinking a beer and watching the Chargers.
But I digress.
The Super Bowl is this Sunday (OBViously) and, while I'm very disappointed my Chargers got knocked out of the playoffs weeks ago, I will still watch the big game of course. And Frenchy is getting more and more excited about it as well. As evidenced by the email he sent to an IESE friend of ours, who invited us to his place to watch the game:
We are very excited to join you for the super ballon! This will be my very first super ballon in the US so I hope that you are ready to cope with my excitement...
Please let us know all the logistic details (where, when, what kind of beer you like, your favorite pizzas...)
Back when I was in film school, I did a couple of internships in local news in San Diego. Funny for a film major, I know, but San Diego isn't LA and those were my options if I wanted to be home for the summer.
I learned a lot those two summers. I learned that production and and news crews are pretty fun, the news floor is simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting, and that I never wanted to work in news. Ever. To this day, I can't watch a reporter or news anchor without feeling a slight queasiness. That weird, unnatural way of talking. Those strange hand gestures. The awful, shellacked hair... for both men and women. And, above all, their ability to appear sad or serious while reporting something heartbreaking or devastating and then turn around once the clip starts rolling and joke with the crew or other news casters.
So here we are in 2010. Hooray! I didn't get to write as much as I'd have liked in 2009 and frankly, it bothers me. Eventually I'll get around to writing up all the funny things that happened, as promised, if only so I remember them for the grandkids.
Anyway, I made many new years' resolutions for this year, as usual, and among them were to get back into the blogging saddle and write regularly again. I have missed it, and apparently some of you random strangers have too. Others haven't at all because they read my Facebook status updates or Tweets and feel like they hear more than enough from me. But enough about me and my resolutions. (If you really want to know about them, I suppose I can always write about that later, too.) The point of all of this is that the new year has already brought some fabulous little tales. Most of which, if they hadn't happened to me personally, I wouldn't believe.
Today, for example, I got the following message on my Facebook page from my friend Christele in Paris: "Hi Noelle, received a text from you yesterday... Tu me demandais l'addition... ** Was kind of funny, in a 4th- dimension-y way, as it came out of nowhere, in the bleak midwinter..."
** You asked me for the check. Naturally, my first response was to freak out and prepare to call AT&T and demand to know why my phone is sending out international text messages. Stranger things have happened in my time with AT&T mobile. Instead, I wrote the following response: "WHAT?! Are you serious? From which number? I definitely didn't send you any texts..."
And Christele responded: "Bizarre... It read "La addition je vous ple?". Thought it was a private joke, sent to me by mistake. The sender's number ended by 0587. Could it be a number u used in La Jolla? I did save it under your name. Then, it might have been your dad's answer to my happy 2010 SMS :-))"
I should have known. My father only knows how to say one thing in French - how to ask for the check at a restaurant. I've told him for years that he should stop volunteering that phrase or he'll end up picking up checks for other people all over the place. But clearly some habits are hard to break.
I guess I had used my dad's phone to call Christele at some point during the week of our wedding, and she saved his number as mine. She then included his number when she sent out a mass "Bonne annee!" text to all her friends as the clock struck midnight in Paris. And my father didn't do as most people probably would, ignoring the message or writing back "WHO IS THIS?!?!?!"
Over the three months that Frenchy has now lived in the US, I've tried to be a good guide to Americana. Which is why, many mornings, I turn on the Today show while we are getting ready for work. (Also because it's the best way to do your ab workout - you can do LOTS of crunches before you even realize it because you're so engrossed in a story about a woman was attacked by a chimp or the fact that Sammy Sosa is turning white.)
But I generally leave the house by 8am, so I don't get to watch most of the Today show. So I didn't actually see this particular clip live. And that's why I say THANK GOODNESS FOR THE INTERNET.
It has been over three months since I have updated the blog. That is not good blogging practice. I've received emails, facebook messages, and blog comments asking when I'll get rolling again. And as each day passes, I only feel worse about it and there is just more to write about... more I haven't written about.
It's a horrible feeling. And knowing how much there is to write, it has become a daunting task. So I decided to help myself out a little. This is an interactive environment, after all. So why should I have all the say in what goes on here? I mean just because this blog is about my (weird) life doesn't mean I should be queen of the world.
So I'm opening this up to a poll. I will, hopefully, eventually get around to writing about everything below, along with everything that comes up on a daily (and sometimes minutely) basis. But I need help deciding where to start. Won't you help a girl out? Vote on which of the following you're most BURNING to read about, and I'll get started on that first. Okay? Here we go! Can't wait to see your responses!
A. Ryan and Cristina's fabulous wedding in Alicante, Spain. B. Our fabulous wedding in San Diego. C. Confusion over international variations of "Rock, Paper, Scissors" D. The wedding dress I bought on Craigslist and (and the tux Frenchy got for 50 bucks) and the crazy day we spent taking photos. E. A Hawaiian Honeymoon F. Bedbugs G. Ian & Ceylan's fabulous wedding in Istanbul H. Our pre-Istanbul adventure in Cappadocia I. "This Is It" J. My colleague's dog Waffle, with whom I've fallen hopelessly in love. K. The fact that I have (again) signed up for the Paris marathon in April... and the fact that having just written that makes it much more official L. Why you shouldn't dry your socks in the microwave M. Anything I might have forgotten that you think is more interesting than the above. (Suggestions welcome!)
And I am, really. Because the last post on this blog is over a month ago, and I have so many things to share. I'm mostly horrible because I know that in a year's time or more I'll look back on this and be annoyed with myself that I didn't write it all down. I mean, hopefully you only plan a wedding once in your life!
But not only have I been planning a wedding, I've been doing far too many other things, like helping launch a company, living far away from Frenchy, dealing with green cards and shoulder surgery (for him) and wedding dresses and apartment setup (for me). It hasn't been easy, but I still find myself frustrated that I couldn't set aside just a few minutes each day to write down what has happened.
Maybe that's because each day is too full of stuff to write. Well I do plan to go back and jot it all down. It would be a disservice to myself not to, since most of it is so ridiculous and hilarious, I know I'll laugh about it later. For now, anyway, a few of the things that have happened in the past 3 months since I relocated to New York, in no particular order:
21 flights, 1 cancelled, 1 missed connection, 1 near missed connection, 5 more to go
34 trips to the airport
3 dress fittings
4 flights carrying a wedding dress and suit (best way to travel)
1 cake tasting
1 wedding (not ours)
4 US states
1 bed delivered
0 sofas delivered
1 sofa needed
3+ months away from Frenchy
4 trips to Paris
1 mom's birthday
2 lobster burritos
2 trips to florist
1 bionic shoulder (for Frenchy)
400 invitations sent
1 castle visited
1 refrigerator not stocked
1 cavity filled (boo)
36 rice cakes eaten
23 boxes opened
14 boxes still to open
1 move from Paris to New York
1 flight delayed due to vomit (not mine)
1 airport commotion due to large woman fainting
1 elevator out of service from 10pm to 7am (not good when you get home at 10:05 and live on the 8th floor)
I haven't been home in nearly two years (since Frenchy made his first visit there, in August 2007) and I haven't been there at the same time as my parents AND my sister in over three years. Shocking but true.
So I've been pretty psyched about the prospect of a weekend at home in the sunshine with my parents and Nicole, and also to get some much-needed wedding planning in. So tonight I went to the airport in order to take a 7:30 flight to San Diego. I left at 5pm, sat in traffic for an hour and a half, and barely made it to JFK by 6:30, in time for check in.
But I shouldn't have worried. By the time I got there, the flight had already been delayed to 8:30. And then, within a few minutes, to 9pm. So I settled in for a long wait - a supposed severe thunderstorm hadn't even shown up yet - and decided to treat myself to a beer. A big beer. And the next time I checked the departures screen, my flight was leaving at 10pm. So I signed up for an hour's worth of wifi, and did my best to entertain myself. The next announcement I heard told us that our plane had landed finally and was just waiting for the gate to open up and the passengers to unload.
The minutes ticked by. People got more and more annoyed. And another announcement told us our gate had changed. So we all packed up and rushed across the airport terminal. Only to learn that the plane hadn't landed at all, and was still circling over JFK. I felt sorry for the people on the plane... they'd been on a 7-hour trip from Chicago, complete with an unplanned stop in Virginia. At least I was in airport with beer and wifi.
Except that the restaurants and newsstands had all closed. And my wifi connection was no good at the other end of the terminal.
When our flight was delayed until 11:15pm I started to think the worst. You see, San Diego airport has a noise curfew, and thus planes can't land after 2am. Planes that are already en route can, but not planes that haven't even taken off in time to arrive. The thunderstorm had long come and gone and, admittedly, it was impressive. Dozens of flights had been cancelled. And yet we were delayed again, until 12:15am, with a scheduled touchdown in San Diego at 3am.
And around that time, the pilot announced that the flight would be cancelled because the crew would have been on the clock for over 24 hours by the time we'd land. Whoops, time to run again. This time to the Delta ticketing counter, where we were unfortunately the last mob of people to have had a flight cancelled. Meaning nothing was left.
I have an 8am appointment at our wedding location and a 10am dentist appointment. Not to mention a cake appointment, plans to see two bands, and of course the whole hanging out with the family thing. And MEXICAN FOOD! I want Mexican food!
Ugh. So I waited in line, sat on hold on the phone, no luck. Nothing that would've gotten me to San Diego for longer than 24 hours. And as crazy as I might be, I'm not THAT crazy. Fortunately, that's when my dad stepped in. My dad of a gazillion frequent flier miles. Next thing you know, I have a flight at 6am out of Laguardia, stopping in Chicago, getting me to San Diego by 11:30 in the morning. And with upgrades to first class, no less!
And nearly nine hours after leaving my apartment, here I am again. And I'll sleep 2 hours and then try again. Fingers crossed this time...
I honestly don't even know what to write. I'm so sad.
Michael Jackson was not only one of my all-time favorite performers, musicians, singers, dancers, all-around badasses, but also one of the favorite things that Quentin and I shared. The number of hours we spent watching MJ videos on youtube is shocking. And the number of times we've listened to Michael's songs borders on obsessive.
I've moonwalked in every country I've ever been to. And Quentin can even do the sideways moonwalk. One afternoon I mentioned to him how I wished I could do that move, and he looked it up on youtube and mastered it in moments. He showed off his new moves nonchalantly in the Calatrava lobby as we waited for the elevators that evening. To say my jaw dropped would be a ridiculous understatement.
And of course, just last December, I celebrated my birthday in Paris with a Madonna-Michael Jackson party. Their 50th, my 30th. Thank goodness I did it then, because this year it would be in rather poor taste...
This very afternoon, I was on a quick video skype chat with Quentin, who had finally managed to purchase THE white suit for our wedding, and he was so enthused over it he couldn't help but do a few tried and true favorite MJ moves to the delight of my work colleagues.
And as Quentin and I have tried to decide on our wedding song, we've been debating between Michael and Stevie. Because, while we love them both, our whole incredible relationship started because one night back in February 2007, he dragged me from one room of Otto Zutz to another because Billy Jean was playing. And we had dancing to do. And kissing.
So... thanks Michael. Your music always lifts me up and makes me dance. And I credit you alone with the fact that Frenchy and I couldn't help but must a move together that night in Barcelona. I've been walking on the moon ever since. Rest in Peace, Michael!
Sideways moonwalk at 0:23, 1:23, 2:15, 2;29 3:52, and 5:17.
My doctor ordered some routine bloodwork on Monday afternoon and said I could stop by the lab anytime from 8-5, Monday through Friday. Considering I have to be at work by 8:30 and that I couldn't eat before having the blood drawn, I thought it would be a good idea to go there at 8am to get it over and done with and be able to get on with my day.
So I left my apartment extra early, jumped on the train, and headed for West 14th Street. I arrived at 8:05 and of course the waiting room was already full. Wouldn't you know. So I put my name on the list and took a seat. I think I was 7th or 8th on the list, but people with appointments take precedence, so getting there early wasn't really THAT much help. Particularly since I happened to go there the morning that only one person was working.
I've been to this place before. It's usually pretty quick - two little stations and two nurses - but just my luck, this morning with only one nurse there, it was S-L-O-W. Not anyone's fault, just unlucky that nurse number two happened to be trapped on a subway somewhere. Fortunately I had already alerted all my colleagues to the fact that I might be a few minutes late, but as the clock ticked toward 9am, I really started to worry about the time.
And that's also when I realized that, in my rush to get to the clinic this morning, I'd left the iron on in my apartment. In Brooklyn.
Now each minute that passed felt like three as I imagined burning the whole building down. I sent an email to one of my colleagues explaining the situation because not only would I certainly be late, I also would have to go back home to unplug the alarm before coming back to the office, but on top of that we had a presentation for a pitch to prepare. My timing is awesome.
Meanwhile, there was a Puerto Rican woman with two kids, a boy and a girl, in the waiting room as well. And it was clear that these kids hadn't ever had blood drawn before and were very nervous about it. But instead of telling them things like "It'll be ok" or "don't worry," she was saying things like, "Don't be a baby" and "You better not start crying," in a mix of Spanish and English. The poor kids were getting more nervous by the minute, saying they wished it was already tomorrow so the whole needle thing would be over. I understand. I wanted it to be tomorrow too, so that the whole DAY would already be over.
Finally it was their turn, and they had a drawn-out spat over who would go first. Somehow it ended up being the boy, who we could hear whimpering from the cubicle as the nurse tied the rubber band around his arm. The wimpering turned into full-fledged moaning and sobbing, and then once the pin prick had happened, we could hear the nurse say, "See? That wasn't so bad, was it?" To which he responded, "YES IT'S BAD IT'S HORRIBLE I'M GOING TO DIE I'M GOING TO DIE I'M GOING TO DIEEEEEEE!!!!"
Which is about when the girl reappeared in the waiting area, crying and hoping no one would notice she was hiding in the corner so she could escape the whole ordeal. Instead, her mom and the nurse came for her next and she started crying and screaming and saying she didn't want to do it. We were all waiting, everyone late for work, and so finally the nurse gave up and said she'd take the next patient. Thank goodness. And amazingly, nurse #2 finally appeared at exactly the same time.
The next patient was, mercifully, yours truly. And as I waited at the counter for my paperwork to be processed, I asked the little girl if she wanted to come with me while I had my blood drawn to see how easy it would be. She tearfully declined, saying "You're older than me, so of course it hurts you less!"
So of course I was in and out in about 90 seconds (why do you always have to wait SO LONG for things that are SO QUICK when it's finally your turn???) and nurse number one was trying to convince the little girl to get it over with. Finally she said, "Okay well I've tried to do this the nice way but we're going to have to do it the not-so-nice way, since your doctor said you have to have this done!" Since I was passing by on my way out, I somehow got wrangled into a child wrestling session. She was so adamantly opposed to the whole needle thing that it took four of us two hold her down. She sat on her mom's lap, the first nurse getting the needle ready, the second nurse doing I'm not sure what now that I think about it, and me holding her non-needle arm and trying to convince her to talk to me rather than looking at what the nurse was about to do.
But she insisted, and screamed and writhed right up until the second the needle went in, at which point she calmly said, "Wow." AND THEN STARTED LAUGHING.
I mean really. I waited an additional 30 minutes for that?!
Anyway everyone was really grateful for "that nice lady's assistance," and then I was off on my merry way. To race back to the subway, back to Brooklyn, back up to my apartment, unplug the iron (which hadn't set anything on fire and actually had an auto-off feature, but I wasn't sure), and then BACK into the subway to get back to the office.
If you don't want to suffer from high blood pressure, I recommend you start your morning in an alternative fashion. Frenchy just read this post and asked via skype, "How to finish your day?" To which I replied, not purposely, just magically at the right moment:
You know what's totally awesome? Finding the love of your life, your perfect companion. You know what else is awesome? Planning your rad beach wedding with said perfect companion.
Not so awesome? When you're in New York, Perfect Companion is in Paris, and the wedding is in San Diego. Talk about complicated! Thank goodness for parents! Mine have been so helpful in organizing our wedding while we're spread all around the globe.
It's been particularly tough since I've moved back to New York, because Frenchy and I are doing our planning via phone and skype, which is something most couples get to enjoy doing together. Like, in the same physical location. But we are making the most of it, doing the best we can, enjoying the time we do get to spend together (two weekends so far since I left Paris, every three weeks), and also utilizing the latest in mobile and computing technology.
For instance, this morning, I received the following poem via email: I love you C'est tout Juste un petit poème Pour te dire que je t aime
And why, on Saturday morning, I woke up to a couple of incredible emailed images on my iPhone, like this And this He's pretty foxy, huh?
Well, unfortunately, his white wedding suit dreams were dashed yesterday evening, when he received a call from the shop salesman informing him that no, he could not buy pants that are a different suit size from the jacket. You see, Frenchy is rather well-endowed, according to Calvin Klein standards. In the rear.
Which is why, later this afternoon I received the following beautiful poem via email, entitled "Wedding Suit Research Conclusion":
My big butt Screwed me up What the f*ck That sucks
Of course there are big things that make me happy, just like anyone, but sometimes it's those little things that make all the difference.
I've been back to New York for nearly two months, living and working, and while all of that has been great, it's also been a little ... complicated. I'm not talking about the fact that Frenchy and I area separated by an ocean, though that can be complicated too. I'm talking about the fact that I leave my apartment by 7:45 every morning and rarely return before 9pm. And, in my particular building, while there is a doorman and a super, if you want something delivered you actually have to be there to receive it. And if it's a piece of furniture, that requires the freight elevator, which can't be used for big stuff on the weekend.
I think you can guess where this is going. As I write this right now, in fact, I'm sitting on my "couch," which is actually a folded up moving blanket left behind by the guys who brought the stuff from my storage space, a pillow against the wall, and arm rests made up of boxes of CDs. The most comfortable couch, it is not. But it works. And until my better half arrives from France and can wait for a delivery while I'm at work, it'll have to do.
What HASN'T worked so well is the lack of coffee in the apartment. And so on Sunday afternoon, when I was at Target and saw a little Bialetti Moka coffeemaker like we have in Paris, I knew I had to have it. Because, you see, there also isn't really any counter space for a proper coffee machine in our "kitchen." Which, in typical New York City style is actually just a wall on the other side of the living room.
Sunday night as I was talking to Frenchy via skype, I showed off my new purchase. I was beyond excited about the prospect of having a cup of coffee before leaving the apartment on this Monday morning, and Frenchy said, "Oh, so I don't have to pack our coffemaker in Paris! Great!" Then he paused, and said, "Maybe you should go back and buy a second one."
Anyway, I would be lying if I said that the coffee I had this morning before work wasn't one of the best I've ever had.
If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may know that I had a rather disastrous hair experience in Barcelona during the first year of my MBA.
Interestingly enough, I wasn't the only one. In fact I had several conversations with other expats in BCN who'd run into hair catastrophes. Finally one of them told me about a French guy she'd found at a salon aptly named Le Salon, who had given her not just a normal haircut, but a GREAT haircut. And as such my love for Damien was born. Unfortunately, he vanished from my radar during my summer in Bucharest and during my second year I was again adrift in the cruel waters that are the Barcelona haircutting culture. (Anyone who has been to Barcelona knows that the favorite hairstyle is the mullet.)
But, magically, I found him again! He fortunately had my mobile number on file and so when he opened his very own salon and sent out a text message announcement, I realized who it was and called him immediately. His space, L'Adresse, has been open for about two and a half years now, and it's gorgeous. Fabulous decor, great music, a tea selection he brings back from his monthly trips to New York, and awesome cookies. Oh yeah, and did I mention he gives fantastic haircuts and does amazing color? Men, women, kids, he does a great job with everyone. So much so that people (including me) actually fly to Barcelona specifically to see him!
So, whether you're someone who reads this blog regularly, or a random who has happened upon it because you googled "haircut Barcelona," I recommend you give him a call. Oh, and he speaks Spanish, English, French, and some Catalan. So never fear, your hair is safe with Damien!
L'Adresse C/ Córsega, 204 principal 3ª Barcelona 08036 +34 934 100 329
The kind folks at Lexiophiles and bab.la have nominated my blog as one of "the hottest blogs about International Exchange and Experience from all around the world, submitted by Lexiophiles readers and bab.la users." Which is really nice of them.
And you know what would be really nice of YOU? If you'd click on the little thingy below to vote for me! My blog shows up toward the bottom of the list, Stranger in a Strange Land of course! Thanks for your love and support!
The New York City subway has it's pluses and minuses. Pluses: it has heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. Usually. And most lines run all night. Normally. But it can also be cramped and crowded just like subways anywhere.
But one of the best things about the subway is the random conversations you overhear.
For example, last night on my way home on the Q train from Chinatown, I happened to sit next to an Asian-American couple. Well, they weren't a couple, they were just a guy and a girl. And they started talking about a friend of theirs, who is apparently very wealthy but never wants to spend any money. And from there, it went like this:
Girl: Maybe it's a religious thing. Guy: Well that doesn't even make sense. I mean, that RELIGION doesn't make sense. All religions make sense except for that one. Even Greek mythology makes sense! Like, it all comes from nature! Zeus created all the other gods out of the different elements Girl: But where did Zeus come from? Guy: He came from the elements too! And then he made the others. (A pause.) Girl: What about Ethan? Guy: Huh? Girl: You know, the name Ethan. What do you think of it? I was just thinking about baby names... Guy: Why are you thinking about THAT??? Girl: I don't know. I guess... you're a guy, you wouldn't understand. Guy: Well anyway Ethan is a guy with skinny pencil jeans and unwashed hair. Really scummy. Like Ethan Hawke! Have you ever seen him in person? Girl: No.... Guy: Well he looks like a bum.
I love Paris in the springtime. Hey, that's catchy. Someone should write a song about it!
So I'm back in Paris for four days with my Frenchy, who had shoulder surgery nearly two weeks ago. Being away from him during this time has been difficult for both of us, but it makes this long weekend together even better. And the amazing weather doesn't hurt either. We've strolled through the Marais, had dinners and brunches with friends and family, eaten ice cream, taken pictures, and eaten plenty of baguettes and croissants. (And wine and cheese.)
I woke up this morning with very mixed feelings about going back to New York tonight. One very obvious reason - Frenchy won't be coming with me (but hopefully soon!) But this is also the first summer I won't spend in Europe in nearly four years. Actually, it's my first summer away from Barcelona in years, and with this gorgeous weather, I feel like I should be packing up my beach towels and jumping on the scooter and heading to Barceloneta....
Add to that the fact that next weekend is our IESE class reunion (for both my class and Frenchy's) in Barcelona AND Frenchy's birthday, and being too far away to jump on a weekend flight leaves me feeling strangely claustrophobic. Claustrophobic in New York. I never thought the day would come...
However, one of the great things about New York is that friends pass through town all the time. So even though I'm now quite a bit farther away from most of my IESE friends, I'm much closer to all my old New York friends, and hey... IESE can come to me. And New York will seem a whole lot better again once Frenchy gets to town!
Yesterday I was having a quick bite to eat at the Grey Dog with an old friend when a guy walked in wearing a purple cap and gown. A brand new NYU graduate with his parents at lunch. And it was at that moment that I realized I graduated from NYU Film myself ten years ago this week. Is that really possible? I tried to convince myself it's not, but... well it is. I finished college ten years ago.
In fairness to me, I graduated a year early, but still... geez. Time flies. It doesn't seem that long ago that we were all sitting in Washington Square Park for the massive graduation ceremony (the more intimate Tisch School of the Arts graduation was held the following day) shrouded in those purple outfits ourselves. Quincy Jones was one of the speakers. And I remember another woman accidentally said "NY Jew" instead of NYU during her speech... no idea who that was, but her slip up certainly stuck with me.
As did the couple of fim students who yelled "MILLENNIUM!!!" every time a speaker mentioned that we were the last graduating class of the millennium. Much to the chagrin of the prissy law students who, unluckily for them, were seated next to us. And what sticks with me most from that day? The obnoxious business school students who had written their graduating banker salaries on their caps in white tape. I despised them and swore I'd never be one of them.
And here I am, ten years later, a filmmaker with an MBA. MILLENNIUM!!!!
I had to change the title of this blog when I moved to France last year because, well, while I'd gone to Barcelona, I clearly wasn't there anymore. So "Noelle Goes To Barcelona" wasn't gonna cut it anymore. And neither was "Noelle Goes To Paris." What if I moved again? And move I did, back to New York City, where I have definitely felt ... weird, at times.
On the second day back, I informed a woman in French that she'd left her headlights on as she was getting out of her car. She gave me a blank stare, which I returned, until I realized what had happened and repeated myself. This time in English.
It's so great to be back, and so easy and normal in so many ways, and yet also so bizarre. So much is the same as it was four years ago, and so much has changed - a lot of it as a result of the recession, frankly. Favorite shops and restaurants are closed, and nothing has sprung up in their place. And of course I'm living in a new neighborhood - Park Slope - in a new borough - Brooklyn - and so there's lots to learn and figure out. I certainly won't be bored while I wait for Frenchy to arrive.
But it has only been a week... and I'm sure the strangeness will eventually wear off. And it will be at or around that time that I'll probably be ready to seek out a new and strange destination!
Well it's 5:30am here in Brooklyn and I'm wide awake, and have been for an hour now. I love jetlag going west... going back east, not so much.
Last night I arrived just after 7pm at JFK, but I think we might have accidentally landed at Newark because after landing we drove for about an hour to our gate. Ahhh, New York.
Then we finally got off the plane and into immigration, where hundreds of mask-wearing Chinese travelers reminded me - yet again, in case I forgot! - that swine flu (or Mexican flu if you're French) is seriously freaking everybody out. After waiting a good 40 minutes for my suitcases (ufff, I haven't packed this heavily since I moved to Spain!) and then another 20 to get through customs, I was finally in a taxi headed for my friend's house in Brooklyn. Within 3 minutes I'd already been nearly thrown through the windshield, and for the rest of the ride the driver intermittently pressed and released the accelerator every 5 seconds. I almost hurled. Ahhh, New York.
And now the sun is starting to come up - well not really, because it's cloudy, but at least it's getting light out - and I guess I might as well get this party started. At 8:30 I meet my boss for breakfast and then the rest of the day will be a whirlwind of paperwork, new blackberries, new offices, new colleagues. But hey, at least it'll all be in English this time around!
At some point today or tomorrow hopefully I'll get keys to the apartment I'm renting which, incidentally, is unfurnished. And then I'll be camping because I won't have any furniture yet. But it's cool - always an adventure. At least I won't be bored this week. Okay, up and at 'em. Here we gooooo!
Tonight is my last night in Paris. Frenchy and I spent the morning working on our wedding invites (and when I say working, I mean working - this marriage stuff is a lot of work!) and then decided to go into St Germain and enjoy a day which wasn't nearly as nice as the day before, but still not bad. As far as Paris is concerned, if it's not raining, it's fantastic. And if the sun comes out, WOW.
Anyway we wandered around rue Moffetard and finally settled at a cafe. His friend arrived whom he hadn't seen in a while, and my colleague Manuel came by as well. Manuel and I have worked together since November 2007, when he was transferred from Lisbon to Barcelona. We went through the long-awaited move to Paris together as wel, and tomorrow we're both off to the US. Me to NYC, and Manuel to Miami to launch an office there. It'll be so weird not to see him next week...
Anyway one beer led to several and finally we decided it was time to head off to the 16th to watch the end of the Barcelona-Madrid match with some of the girls from my soccer team. We drove my scooter right through the heart of Paris, along the Seine, and up Avenue Kleiber, and I'm not exaggerating when I say I don't think Paris has ever looked more beautiful. The sky was clear and just starting to go dark at 9pm, the buildings were lit, the river was sparkling. Paris is certainly the most beautiful city in the world, and I will miss it.
It's Friday night and I find myself packing again. It was a year ago this week that Frenchy was finishing his MBA at IESE and I was asked to move to Paris to join the global team of our fledgling sports and entertainment network. Of course, it took until October 1 to be fully set up here, after several months of back-and-forth between Barcelona and Paris, and plenty of anxiety over "when, how, where", etc etc etc.
And before even arriving in Paris I had already set up our next adventure - a move back to NYC to help launch another office there. And again, the waiting and wondering as our start date was pushed from December to January and then to March and to April, and finally to May.
In other words, Frenchy and I have been in a sort of transfer state for a year now, all along telling ourselves, "If we just make it through these next couple of months, we'll be fine." And again, we're telling ourselves exactly the same thing. Between now and September, I will move to New York while Frenchy will stay in Paris to work, Frenchy will have shoulder surgery, we will plan our wedding and get married in San Diego, we'll try to get a green card for Frenchy... All while living on different continents. If we can just make it through the next few months, everything will be fine...
So yesterday was my last day at work in the Paris office because Friday is a holiday here in France (like basically every Friday during the month of May... why am I leaving again?) and today I'm taking my last ever RTT - you know, those extra free days off French people get in order to make the 35 hour work week a reality.
And as such, it was of course fitting that we have a few drinks after work. Some work people came by, some soccer girls came by, and some random friends came by. A nice little evening, all in all. And despite eating more than my fair share of croque monsieur, I think I also drank more than my fair share of red wine, so this morning when we decided to make one last attempt at getting me a carte de sejour (French working and residency permit) I can't say that I was incredibly excited about it.
But we went for it anyway. By 7:30 we were up and showering and by 8 we were making sure all the papers were in order and I realized that somehow one of my photos was missing. First stop, rush to Porte Maillot metro station to take more pictures. At or around this time, any slight impression of what could have been considered a hangover disappeared. The sun was out, the air was cool, and I had pictures to take! Raced back to the house, picked up a couple of chocolate croissants, and we were off to the metro.
The metro? Yep. Last night I left my scooter at work because it was raining cats and dogs and I had two laptops and three bottles of wine to bring home. Precious cargo to say the least and, while it made sense last night, this morning I was annoyed to have added an extra level of complication to the morning's activities.
Never mind, off we went to Line 2. I say "we" because this time Frenchy was kind enough to come with me. Partly out of solidarity perhaps, but mostly because this was to be my third attempt and he really wanted to see in person why I'd screwed up the last two times. We arrived by 8:45 and the line was long, but at least today it was sunny and pretty warm. The first time I attempted this, it was February and I had a plane to catch in the afternoon. It was just above freezing and I waited over an hour outside before giving up.
The second time was in late March. I waited outside for about an hour or so (I arrived earlier that time) and was impressed when my number was called within 30 minutes of getting inside. I had all the papers in order. Or so I thought.... turns out that what they told Frenchy wasn't the complete list. Along with all sorts of other documents, I also needed proof we'd been living together for at least six months. I asked if I could bring my rental contract, and the angry administration lady said yes, and I walked out of there, frustrated to the point of tears, to find my scooter covered in white plaster dust which had been blown from a building under construction.
So today we had EVERYTHING in order. And I had Frenchy. What could possibly go wrong? We waited outside for about an hour and a half, and he disappeared for a while to find a wifi connection in order to do some work. The we finally got inside the police station, where once again the numbers moved quickly. Finally it was our turn, so we went up to the desk and I told the woman I was there for the carte de sejour. She started asking for papers and I gleefully handed over each on in succession, feeling confident.
Then she asked for the proof we've lived together for six months, and I gave her the rental contract for the apartment. Which, she said, wasn't sufficient. She asked for our EDF Energy bill, and Frenchy gave it to her. It was from March. Also not sufficient. Because WE NEEDED EVERY SINGLE ENERGY BILL SINCE SIX MONTHS AGO!
I mean, really?
That's around when I almost burst into tears but instead started smiling strangely at her. She didn't smile back. In fact, quite the opposite. When Frenchy asked her very politely for more info so we wouldn't screw up next time, she snapped at him and then even called the next person before we were finished. My strange smile grew and I started to understand those postal workers who went on rampages ... A very good thing I didn't have any sort of weapon handy. Now I see why they make you go through the metal detector on the way in!
So once again, I walked out of the freaking Prefecture de Police in the 17th Arrondissement empty handed and dejected. It was only an hour later that I realized I should have puked on the woman. I mean it worked in Barcelona...