Hard times in New York Town

French woman creating a new trend: the snail beanie

French women as fashion icons

By definition, a French woman is supposed to embody “French effortless chic”, as bad magazines say. It does work in New York, but also in Shanghai and I guess everywhere. How do you live up to the myth? Simple.

Option 1 : you are a French woman, too happy to enjoy the French chic cliché: 

– even if you were born on a farm in Montélimar, you are from Paris. All French women are from Paris.

– when complimented on a clothe, look surprised “what, this? Zara!”. Or pretend it comes from a small unknown shop (make up the name if you need to). The idea is to make anybody feel small because anything looks couture on you.

– don’t be silly, no limits. The uniform “red lipstick / little black dress” is long gone. You can ressuscitate everything. Be creative: everything looks good on you. Including Birkenstocks. including the little square of plastic bag old women put on their hair when it rains. Don’t worry, it’s probably hot in Red Hook anyway. Forget you were bullied because you looked like an 80 year old in 3rd grade. Anything is possible

Option 2 : you are a French woman, decided to go against stereotypes 

First, let me tell you that this is completely stupid: there are not that many good stereotypes. Even if you try very hard, you will suffer from the bad ones anyway (and be treated as arrogant – yet romantic -).

However, I can very generously help. Become pregnant. Do not go hesitate to put on weight. Lots of weight. Dress exactly the same everyday, half Gap, half Girls. It’s a precise science, but after a while, nobody will remember your French chic-ness. Regarding hair, it’s easier. The “effortless tousled hair” is too low-key: just don’t brush your hair. The idea is to look like a dog, or like Britney Spears in Womanizer (the absolute master of the dog-hair universe).

Option 3 : you are a French male

This simply doesn’t apply to you. Regarding males, the stereotype of elegance works solely on italians (grease+ tight suits, ouh yeah) or English (tweed, ouh yeah).

Me, my two girls and our overweight

Becoming obese in three lessons (for kids)

Child obesity, here we are!!

1) Nayla went on a field trip to Dunkin Donuts with her classroom  (she pronounces “doughnut” slightly scornfully). Judging by the pictures, the idea was mostly to eat tons of Donuts (or Doughnuts). But she has had a pavlovian reflex of hyper salivation ever since.

2) the teacher maitresse made a game “what would I buy if I had 100 dollars”. Well apparently what Nayla is dreaming of for 100 dollars is not Elsa’s castle, or even Elsa (!) like her friend Juliette, but 100 chicken nuggets. The teacher said that it’s a pretty accurate deal. Well what I say is she didn’t learn the word “chicken nuggets” from me…

3) the pediatrician made an unpleasant remark about the girls being slightly overweight, adding that I should probably restrain sweets in between meals. Telling ME this… me, the artichokes ayatollah, who eats disgusting local products just for the sake of feeding the girls properly!

Kate in the subway

One morning in the subway, a woman offers her seat. I politely refuse: she looks more exhausted than I am. She insists; I accept.

She introduces herself. Kate. We start chit-chatting. She looks slightly tense, but she has a friendly face, with a lipstick that’s way too red. She has a six month-old and a two year-old, so she says she knows exactly what kind of trouble I’m about to get into. She looks like she really needs to talk.

She is 42 years old, partner in a law firm. Capital market. I was a lawyer too. That makes us two common features. Two kids, lawyer. Kate is startled.

As most women in New York, Kate took six weeks off for each of her kids. She explains with a tense pride that since then, she has organised every aspect of her life. For example, a nanny comes in every day to prepare the dinner and set the table. Meanwhile, Kate gets to enjoy some time with her kids. She says “enjoy” like my parents said “go do your homework”.

She juggles between flights and business trips. She was in Chicago two days ago, she is about to take off again. She mentions her husband at this moment, shrugs. He is there for the kids while she’s away.

In the evening, when she comes back home, Kate gets to “enjoy” some time with her kids while the nanny is working in the background. Then she puts her babies to bed, and resumes working. She is sleeping on two hour-chunks,  the baby still wakes up a lot. And no, she answers to my silent question, she won’t let him cry to sleep. It’s not even possible, Kate she is still breastfeeding. My face plunges into a visible “….????” She nods: everything is fine, she pumps in the office, and she freezes her milk before and during the business trips. Well, of course, she has to admit she is a bit sleep-deprived. And the eldest kid is a bit jealous (I understand “a nuisance”, but I think Kate wouldn’t put it that way).

In the morning, after her disastrous nights, Kate wakes up, puts on too much red lipstick, and goes back to work.

Obviously, Kate belongs to the category of women I should envy, not feel bad for. But she embodies so well the women I have gotten to know here,  suffocating themselves through “do’s” and “dont’s” regarding babies and work, and control, that despite the ten years and probably hundreds of thousands of dollars between us, I feel like tapping her on the shoulder and telling her that it’s OK, you’re OK, just have one glass of wine, or maybe twenty, think about yourself for one second and don’t worry, you fucking rock.

We have arrived at Kate’s station. She puts her bag on her shoulder, puts her armour back on, and galops on the staircase.

For every box of kid's cereals, one dagger will be donated to a veteran

The dude of marketing

Interstate 91 toward New Haven:

” buy a car : 10 cookie boxes donated to our soldiers ”

… Really?

Power point for a UN conference on women's voting rights in the 19th century

The UN Conference on women’s rights

You decide to take your fat body to a UN conference on women’s right. It’s a subject you have always been interested in, it’s free, and your friend Greg says that a bunch of super-interesting people are attending and you have to start working on your network woman.

When you get there, it is exactly 8 AM. You are hungry, and you have huge concerns about your breath. So you breathe through your nose as much as possible, and you make sure to avoid talking to anyone (note to self: always carry chewing gums when wanting to network).

You notice that only women are attending. Only women are speaking. Everyone is nodding at alarming statistics everyone presumably already knows. Everyone warmly applauds the speech on implementation of women’s rights. You do too, and you are sincere. But you restrain a sigh of relief when you hear that men are not only rivals.

The authors of the quotes are tremendously diverse. Poets from the Philippins, and right after that, a quote by Margaret Thatcher (received with the same warmth).

After a while, you start wondering how on earth this type of conferences could be useful as everybody is already working in women’s rights, so I hope everybody is already convinced that violence against women is a bad thing.

Greg says that you have it all wrong. This is mostly the occasion to fundraise and network. Basically, no one cares about the content of the conference.

You cannot get the Disney Song “Rescue Aid Society” out of your head.

Between two conferences, you run to buy muffins and chewing gums to overcome the epic fight with your breath (and your stomach).

You come back heartened, stiff as a bird of prey, with that powerful  “gimme your f**ing business card” look. But before you have managed to plunge at anyone, a pretty girl starts talking to you. After a while, you feel like laughing because it looks like she is trying the “bird of prey” tactics on you. Wrong number girl. She gives you her business card, and you take it. Behind it, it says “Currently studying Politics, English and Theatre Studies; Passionate about women’s rights, particularly within sport and allowing equal opportunities for both men and women; Striving for gender equality”. She talks and talks, and lets you go. She looks slightly disappointed because you haven’t given her your own business card – truth is, you don’t have one any more.

It is 4 PM, you have to go get the girls.

You have taken noone else’s business card.

But you have attended a UN conference on women’s rights.

Me, having forgotten some of Charlotte's clothes and urging Nayla to listen to the pledge of allegiance

Allegiance to the flag

Today, like everyday and probably like most parents, I arrive late at school, looking odd and unprepared and unsure about what I might have forgotten (Nayla’s panties? my own?)

Today I am unusually late. So with two other unusually late parents (ironically enough, a Russian dad and a Chinese mom*), I get to silently witness what I had not seen yet:

Little children gather around little Nikolas, who is proudly holding the American flag.

And little children, mostly migrants, put their hand on their heart and respectfully pledge as follows: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

* A Chinese mom and a Russian dad would probably have pledged different allegiances when they were kids

Livin la vida loca #2

It is exactly 5:02 PM.

I wake up from an unforeseen nap, lead my painful body toward the fridge, grab a bottle of whipped cream and joylessly gobble out of the bottle.

Living life to the fullest.

The way yoouuuuung lovers do

Matchmaking and feminism?

I found out about a whole new concept just in time for Valentine’s. Matchmakers. Well I knew there were some in Shanghai and probably other parts of the world, but the fact that they are big in NYC is a surprise. But then again, the whole concept of love here is a permanent surprise for me.

So in an article by Garance Doré, Amy Laurent, who is obviously considered “one of the most successful matchmakers in the States”, was uttering fun stupidities about love. I decided to dig in.

  • In the “blog” part of her website, I found the evidence that feminism still has a long way to go, since unfortunately, Pretty woman seems to still be the ultimate dream (unless apparently less charming): “I received some interesting news from one of my clients and his fabulous leggy blonde counterpart, whom I introduced him to (a mere  two months ago). They called to tell me that she was giving up her lease next month to move into his swanky Tribeca triplex.”.
  • Even better: the differences between the “services for men” and “services to women”. Whoever detects all differences will get a free hour of love coaching with me. Bachelors, beware.
Game over

0/3 – set OB


– a first and slightly traumatising appointment

– a second appointment which had disturbingly revealed that the foetus didn’t have a spine (because obviously, if the spine couldn’t be seen properly at the ultrasound, it’s because it didn’t exist (in fact, the foetus just wasn’t positioned properly (but as I now know that appointments at my hospital have a lot in common with Wolfgang Petersen movies (in short: the opposite of subtle), I usually remain pretty calm (the idea being mostly for the hospital to cover its ass in the unlikely case of a real issue (FYI, the additional ultrasound and blood test both revealed an immaculate and perfect spine)))

here are accurate minutes of my third appointment. 17 seconds, 4 sentences:

– you have to drink more

– you gained too much weight

– you should now sleep on the left side, otherwise it’s going to hurt the baby

– you can put your clothes back on, I don’t need to examine you

Kid suing his mother over poor taste in clothes

The country of judicial fun

Obviously, there is this trial. A policeman had shot two people, including a teenager who was fighting with his father (whom he shot in the back), and a neighbor who just happened to be there. Now he is suing the family of the victim because the shooting caused him “extreme emotional trauma”.

But this is not my favorite in terms of absurd trials.

This one struck me even more (if it is even possible): an aunt sued her nephew for 127,000 dollars: on his birthday, the most likely overexcited nephew sees his aunt. He shouts “I love you Auntie Jen”, and hugs her so vigorously that the auntie falls to the ground and breaks her wrist. So the aunt testifies that she does love the boy (who, by the way, lost his mother in the meantime), but she also does live on the third floor of a Manhattan building, and we all know how Manhattan is.

Sadly enough, she lost.