Hard times in New York Town

Tag: Absurd lists

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).

Foreigner committing seppuku because of the health system abroad

The truth about living abroad

When I woke up this morning, my inbox was joyfully clicking because I had just received an email from the “Union of the French abroad”. There was a sexy message inside: “DFAE, AEFE, CFE… news for the French living abroad”. I had also received an email from a good friend of mine, which, as often, contained a glimmering and not-so-true depiction of my life.

From what I can understand, this is what living abroad looks like:

1 be on holiday 24/7, and spend week-ends visiting remote areas and talk to unknown-and-sociologically-fascinating-tribes. Being therefore entitled to utter mesmerising clichés like “progress-leads-nowhere-without-brotherhood-of-mankind” (of course, it works better if you live in Venezuela than the US, but still)

2 have a bunch of fascinating friends. Being therefore entitled to make casual and irritating name-dropping (with my friend Sarah, who is a sculpter from Singapore, and my friend Ioulia, who runs a hedge fund, we were both going to yoga and …)

3 for parents: get bilingual children for free. Being therefore entitled to complain because your little girl mixes up spanish and russian and this is SO annoying.

4 have a huge house, a maid, a gardener. Not being entitled to any complaint, and in particular, avoid saying that you don’t miss Paris and its tiny apartments that remind you of hutches. Even friendship has its limits.

5 as a summary: always have Carrie’s eyes in Sex and the City’s opening credits.

Sometimes, that’s indeed how life can be (except for 4, honestly I haven’t seen any of that). Sometimes not. My post is too long already, therefore I will leave my arguments for future posts, but here is the list already (the psychorigid lawyer in me cannot help writing lists):

1. Being abroad makes you far.

2. Being abroad makes you lonely.

3. Being abroad makes you stupid.

4. Being abroad makes you whiny.

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

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?

The day you stop looking for an office job and consider working on Time Square

List of the days

– The first day, you blink. Right in front of you, two women are wearing a blue TShirt, with a huge and aggressive message “are you free from sin”? They stand across a set-up with the huge mention “Bible crusade”. Nobody except you seems to find it super weird.

– The day you realise the bible crusade thing is actually completely normal (it took me about three months).

– The day you sing at the top of your lungs “New York is cold but I like where I’m living, there’s music on Clinton Street all through evening”.

– The day you naturally say “God bless you” to someone on the street.

– The day you decide you have THE idea for THE new startup: printing New York maps mentioning the locations of famous songs, or movies. The next morning, you wake up realising there is actually no business model behind this so great idea. But you have thought about doing something, that might be a good sign.

– the day you give up with the celsius vs fahrenheit conversion. And you look super concerned when someone mentions his baby’s “101 °F” fever although actually, you have no idea if this is high.

– the day you are craving for a third meal with solely meat, after bacon and eggs for breakfast and a huge Philly steak sandwich for lunch.

– and all the normal days, where you are so bored looking for a job that you end up compiling frantically the tiniest piece of information regarding Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt’s break up (yes, that was a long time ago). And you solemnly declare that you root for Angie.

Shut up, I'm trying to make new friends

Fashion toolkit

After a careful observation of my new environment, this is my own personal list of “must haves to adjust to my new aggressive surrounding”.

  • A subscription to the New Yorker (although I still don’t know whether I am supposed to actually read it – is conspicuously carrying it around good enough?)
  • A pair of blue polarized Ray Bans
  • Two pairs of sweatpants (same here: am I supposed to go to the gym? Am I supposed to enrol in fitness class (please tell me that’s not true)? Or can I just show my chubby ass in the sweatpants?)
  • Two T-shirts with a cool message (or so I hope – to wear with the sweatpants): one says “fuck yeah Jacques Chirac”. The other is a souvenir from Burma that says “moustache brothers”.

Yep, I am 100% ready.