uschapters
Hard times in New York Town


life


Shut up, Mommy is following on twitter

Sad Twitter


My witty cousin gave me the smart advice to subscribe to Twitter (Mom, if you read this: https://twitter.com/USChapters)

Over the last two weeks, I have spent more time managing to get 7 followers on Twitter, than raising two toddlers who are rocking their terrible two’s. Plus it’s a constant source of stress because followers are apparently hard to catch, but even harder to keep (they look just like bees, foraging all over the place).

Over the last two weeks, I have followed basically everyone, first Benjamin Biolay because ah well, it’s Benjamin Biolay. Then most French newspapers. Then random fashion bloggers. Then random bloggers. Now my poor Twitter account is bursting out of random tweets.

Not sure my nerves will make it till 10 followers.

My adorable friends, can you keep a secret?

Google Analyticator


OK, so as a preamble. I don’t want to look too excited, but Google Analytics freaking ROCKS.

So I just launched my website. Meaning that after 6 months of playing the guinea fowl / secretive teenager (“I made a website but I’m not gonna give you the address”), I ended up giving the address to my 30 friends. So I have a huge public of 40 people, including friends of friends who will want to double-check that indeed, I have no life.

So as a summary, I ROCK MY NEW LIFE AS A FAILED WRITER.

I purposely omitted to send the link to my grandma, because I was too afraid she would freak out when she would read the word “vibrator”. However I did give the link to my ex boyfriend, because I have always respected his advice, even after we stopped sleeping together.

The next morning, I jumped out of pure sadistic elation when I opened google analytics for the first time. So google analytics is the awesome tool that allows you to track down everyone that’s been reading your website (and let’s face it, very often, to sigh because your website has only been visited by yourself, frantically and 38 times). So I didn’t know, but there is a “location” pin attached to google analytics. And this awesome little tool made me realize that my ex boyfriend being the only individual who lives in Normandy and has access to my website, he did visit uschapters three times. Huhuhu (stupid chuckle).
Noone had told me. Creating a website’s main interest is not to tell stories. It is to access google analytics.
Cool coffee crew

Coffees in New York….


… have a lot in common:

– red or white brick on the walls

– pretty hearts solemnly painted in your latte by handsome baristas. Unfortunately, I regret to inform you that the handsome baristas don’t look at you before or after they paint the heart so I guess there is nothing personal about it. I was very saddened by the fat and furious customer who received the exact same heart as I did yesterday.

– a passion for pop-rock from the 2000’s (which is great, I stopped pretending I knew anything about music around that period). The playlist is more or less the same from Williamsburg to Wall Street. Mostly the Shins, the old Arcade Fires, and the exhausted Conor Oberst, moaning that “this is the first day of (his) life”. Sometimes, the same song plays twice within three hours.

– clients that are mostly people working on their mac. There seems to be a highly dynamic network of guys working on their mac in coffees, since they spend quite some time exchanging business cards

– a lot of classy tattoos, like tattoos based on the golden ratio (“Have you ever heard about Fibonacci”?) I do have a fascination for tattoos, so I always ask the baristas why they chose this pattern. Lots of tributes to a lost brother or father, but also a huge willingness to visually stand out. And they are always thrilled to talk about their tattoos, so I get a lot of free cookies.

 

Note, for pure scientific purposes, that out of principle, I have excluded Starbuck from the scope of my study.  Which is stupid by the way, nothing is more new-yorker than walking around with your starbuck papercup

Cleopatra, thinking life is great now that she's out of Egypt and noone is asking her anything about the pharaonic primaries

Why live abroad


A/ I don’t have to pretend that I care about politics in France and THIS IS FREAKING GREAT.

OK, I do look at the headlines sometimes, but noone is going to stress me out with absurd questions like “have you read this article about – insert a subject noone cares about, including me and the person asking the question -” and worse, “what do you think”? THIS IS AWESOME.

B/ I don’t have to pretend that I care about politics in the US because:

– French people are easily fooled by my answers that always include a “hey, I know better, I LIVE there” subtext, even if what I say is a huge commonplace (and it usually is)

– Americans smartly assume that I don’t give a shit.

19th century painting representing two men carrying another, in an exotic surrounding

We fucking need feminism


My husband and I go to the bank.

First annoying thing. The banker shakes my husband’s hand with a warm “hi”. I get neither the hi, nor the handshake. After a second of hesitation, I coldly reach out to shake his hand. He immediately shakes it with a sorry smile.

Second annoying thing: my husband and I both get the typical semi-paranoid questionnaire. But when I am being asked the question “who are you working for”, the banker immediately answers “so you’re unemployed”. Nothing allows him to make such an assertion. Not our conversation, and not the information previously given to the bank. This nerves me so much that I aggressively reply that no, I am self-employed, which is a half-lie.

We finish the questionnaire and leave macho-bank. My husband gently lectures me, having  noticed the half-lie. Hon, you shouldn’t be so passive-agressive about not working, it’s all right. I explain why I have been annoyed twice. He had not noticed anything. Worse, HE DOES NOT SEEM TO UNDERSTAND.

My current micro-depression finds its deep roots in the loss of my social status. I exist only through him, and through our children. I do not know how to explain this without yelling. So instead I forward him the link to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s amazing talk.

Hector metaphorically fighting sperm

Advertising – subjective fails?


Yes, Americans are better at selling basically any product. Their campaigns are funnier, their actors are cuter, and Don Draper is fucking Don Draper.

But sometimes, they fail. Here is my personal subjective top three but you might as well disagree.

1. Condoms, brand “Trojan”. Apparently it’s well-known. The packaging presents an angry warrior. I do get the idea of the warrior stopping the sperm. But come on, the trojans were all slaughtered because a giant horse full of little men broke, and the little men infested the city. When applying the horse metaphor to the condom, well Houston, there’s a problem.

2. biscuits supposedly healthy called glutino. I remember that Seven scene way too well to ever forget the word gluttony. And to ever buy a glutino biscuit. But then again, maybe it’s just me.
3. trash bins with the highly significant name Brute. This one is not really a fail but it does make me laugh.
Woman telling a stranger about her baby's exhibitionism

Behaving: How to talk to people you don’t know


So here is a summary of what I learned in terms of behavioural rules (yes, I am thinking shifting to sociology, that bores the hell out of my husband)

So THE thing that puzzled me the most is the “hi how are you”. According to the European rules, this is supposed to be a purely rhetorical question: unless you just lost your mother and you are talking to your best friend, you simply answer “fine, thanks”. Well, not exactly.

Example 1. In the elevator. It is 8:24 precisely. I am fighting with Charlotte so she finally accepts to put her shoes on. Concomitantly I yell at Nayla who just pressed all the buttons. A neighbour (whom I have never met) enters the elevator.

Me (focused on the shoes): hi, how are you?

Her: my dad just died in a car accident in Florida. I have to leave to Florida.

Me (nervous laughter): Oh shit ! ben euh, sorry.

At the beginning, I thought it was just a close encounter of the third kind, with no relationship at all to the US.

After several unwanted stories about miscarriages and disgusting sicknesses, I thought that maybe I looked so nice that people would confide anything to my kind ears.

Turns out people just like to talk to strangers.

I guess I must sound slightly superior, like the typical French who thinks the idea is absurd, but I often find it cool. For example, it allows you to acknowledge that your tiny problems are universal (always more rewarding than simply reading it in Vanity Fair). Plus you also can let off steam. I only done it once: I told one neighbour at the park that I sometimes hated my kids. She seemed to have the same problem. It felt good.

I identified two possible kinds of answers, because sometimes, at 8:24 AM, you have to be straightforward.

Answer 1:hugging. It took me a year, but I have become a master in hugging. Free hug whenever you want.

Answer 2: The “No. Me too!!” rule. Which obviously works better when it is plausible, but honestly, it often is (my kid had a bronchiolitis and I was scared/ my boyfriend is a stupid macho / I also have money-job-couple issues).

Unfortunately, sometimes none of those answers is practicable.

Example 2 (yesterday). An impressive and nice black guy, on the street. “oh you have two girls! how cute! I have four”.

Me (nicely): oh yeah?

Him: yep. But it’s too late to have a boy. You know, I am a Vietnam war veteran. I got all kinds of diseases there, I am heavily handicapped and I suffer diabetes. And of course, I am too old.

Me (nervous laughter): Oh shit ! ben euh, sorry.

Livin la vida loca


It is 11:07 PM, I’m going to bed, and my computer lies on my fat belly, stuffed with (i) kettle-cooked-lighly-salted-chips, and (ii) a baby.

Living life to the fullest.

Silly mistakes


chubby / fluffy / chunky / chucky

So my neighbour made it clear. You shouldn’t say: “what a pretty chucky baby”. Chucky is the puppet. Chunky is for cookies, or for your baby’s arms. Chubby is a synonym. They both mean “fat”, but not greasy. Nice fat.

sassy / savvy / sexy 

I still haven’t figured which one is positive and which one is negative. But that as long as I cannot pronounce properly “sassy” and “sexy”, I should avoid using them, especially when talking about my 3 year old-daughter.

Las Vegas Parano (New York version)

List of weird things you end up finding normal


– The Dog Market (capital letters required): dog psychic, dog coats, and little shoes. Dogdates, dogs playgrounds, serious conversations about dogs, presents for dogs (seen in a catalog: little doggie diapers)

– Available free bibles everywhere

– the fact that everyone calls you “mommy” (and no-one calls your husband “daddy”)

– the fact that trucks look like children’s toys. They seem to be used just like children’s toys too. Flashing lights and fire alarms everywhere. If only Charlotte could drive and use flashlights, she would behave exactly like this.

– your own stupidity of woman who hasn’t used her brain for way too long. When exactly have you become that socially awkward weirdo who makes disgusting sex jokes to someone she barely knows?