Saturday, August 31, 2013

metro happenings - the charmer and the beast

This week started and ended on very opposite notes.

I’ll start with the story of the charmer from Monday night.

After two straight weekends spent out of Paris, our refrigerator is starting to look like we’ve been through a disaster of some sort. Walking home from the supermarket with groceries bulging out of my purse and market bags and carrying a loaf of toast in my arms like a baby, I heard running behind me. I thought nothing of it, dismissing the fast paced footsteps as someone exercising. The person stopped when they reached me and stopped me in my tracks: “Hey!” I heard the person say. I looked over my shoulder thinking something might have fallen out of my bag and found a young boy (teenager?) staring at me. I said, “oui?” wondering what he might want.
Very honestly, he looked at me and said he had seen me walk out of the supermarket and found me “adorable” and thought he needed to tell me before I walked away.
I really didn’t know what to think or say – I said thank you but he stayed looking at me like if I should have said something else.
With my hands full of groceries and straight out of work, I don’t exactly look like an adolescent, so at the same time I was confused and flattered.
I don’t believe I have a supermodel’s physique but I get a fair share of harassing cat calls on the metro and the streets of Paris, which is not at all pleasant.  This on the other hand, was not lewd at all. The kid was genuinely nice about it, and when I told him I was on my way home, he wished me a good evening and went on his way.

To end the week however, I’ll finish with the story of the beast.

Living in Paris as a foreigner, you kind of learn to play by the rules and keep a low profile in certain situations. This doesn’t and shouldn’t mean becoming a total pushover in uncomfortable situations. I don’t believe in letting people I don’t know and look like I shouldn’t trust take advantage of my law abiding self who pays for the metro every morning and every evening. Friday morning was no different.
For blocking someone in the form of a terrifying looking junkie thug from passing through the metro turn style with me, I got insulted, pushed and spat in my face. This being the first time such a thing has happened to me, I decided to stand up for myself and let the metro people know about it. After about twenty minutes of explaining what happened to the agent, she said there was nothing she could do for me and suggested I be on my way. While I know that what happened to me today probably happens to a lot of other people under much worse conditions, I find it completely unacceptable for the metro to acknowledge there is a problem and sit there without doing anything about it.
If I pay my way every day, it’s not only because I don’t want to pay a fine for getting caught without a metro ticket, it’s also because I think it’s normal that we pay for a public service. I don’t think it’s normal for others to think they are entitled to a free ride that other people are willing or in my case UNwilling to give them. I also don’t think it’s normal for the metro to file away my complaint without even acknowledging there is a real problem with their system and that the longer they take to clean up their act, the worse it will be.
I can count on one hand the times I have felt in danger on the train, which in and of itself is a reason to consider myself lucky, given the stories I have heard from colleagues and friends. But the fact that these moments have happened, shows there is a problem and the way I was “taken care of” today shows that that problem isn’t going anywhere.

Friday, August 30, 2013

in with the old

At the risk of being considered a hoarder, I will confess there are a few pieces in my closet that date as far back as high school. Some of them, like this skirt don’t make regular appearances but when they do, I love them ever so. Others, like these shoes, have been a staple in my wardrobe since 2005! I’m a firm believer in fashion cycles and in keeping pieces that can be styled according to current trends or seasons.

skirt and belt: Forever XXI; top: Old Navy; shoes: Mango; sunnies: YSL 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Photo Diary: Amsterdam

There are cities that you can go to time and time again and always find new things to discover. For me, Amsterdam is one of those cities. There are the incontournables - the flower market, a trip to the cheese shop and the lingering walks around the canals. Then there are the unexpected little finds - quaint and quirky little shops, decorate doorsteps and bicycles and houseboats. This was our third trip to the "Venice of the North" and I don't think I've had enough yet. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

metro happenings - establishing contact

( a rarity - a picture of me on the metro, taken on the first day back from vacation )

When I started this blog, it was all about things I saw and people I came across on the metro. It has slowly evolved according to my whims and wishes. Recently I thought it would be fun to go back to the starting line and share tid bits of what happens between point A and point B on most days, because while the metro no longer seems foreign and fun, believe me, it has not yet ceased to amaze me what things you can see down there. 
Despite the heat, August is one of the best times to commute to work – the trains are spotted with the few Parisians left in town. A few mornings ago, in an act of summer laze, I took the long way to work underground, choosing to switch trains at Opera rather than walking the rest of the way from Palais Royal.
On my way through the corridors, a woman walked up to me and asked if I could kindly point out the Opera station on a map. I must have looked at her in some sort of bewilderment, given the fact that we were at Opera, at which point she explained that she was writing a book and her reaching out to me was part of her research. I wish I could have asked her what her book was about but she disappeared rather quickly after I answered her question. I think in the moment, I must have looked down at my bag to make sure she wasn’t pick pocketing me, which became very clear very quickly that she wasn’t. And now, I wonder what she will write about me in her book.
Sometimes I wish I could be a fly on the wall and observe situations like these and this little event has had me wondering about the different reactions the woman must get when she asks people that question on the metro. I’ve also been wondering if this isn’t a sign that maybe I should be out there meeting people, “establishing contact” and finally writing that book of mine …

Thursday, August 22, 2013

dressed in yella

(taking advantage of sunlight picture taking for a rooftop drink) 

When I spotted this dress on my last trip to H&M I had mixed feelings staring at its limp figure on the rack. I have a similar elastic waist dress in white that I never wear because it’s kind of big on me. Then I saw it came in XS and thought “what the heck, I don’t have any yellow dresses.” At the register, I was tempted by some colorful chiffon flowers that I thought would look lovely against the bright yellow. It’s been a recurring staple in my summer wardrobe and I’m surprised by its versatility between casual family weekend wear and polished summer office wear.

Flower child  I love these flowers and have incorporated them into a number of my summer looks. I wore this colorful combination to work during the hottest peak in Paris’ heat wave this month. I love the burst of contrasting colors and how adding these flowers and a metallic belt bring a lot to this dress.
shoes: Mango (s/s 2005); belt: Forever XXI; sunnies: YSL

Sunday lunch I packed this dress into my vacation bag, thinking it would be perfect for an afternoon en famille. I paired it with a silk scarf and flats in complementary tones of blue and green for an easy look that transitioned from the patio table to the swimming pool.
scarf: Zara; sandals: BCBG (s/s 2010); bag: Forever XXI 

Primary Upon return to Paris, the last thing I want is to kiss summer goodbye. Luckily, the weather doesn’t look like that will be happening any time soon. I’ve never been one to shy away from color so I was very excited to put together the brightest mix of primaries, maybe in homage to all the people I know who are starting school this week ;)
scarf worn as belt: Forever XXI; shoes: Nine West (s/s 2007)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

sunset dreams

I like to consider our vacations in August to be a kind of "retour aux sources" or a way to reconnect with ourselves, disconnect from the Parisian mayhem and really relax. We spent this past week on vacation in the French Alps with monsieur's family, taking long walks in the mountains, long swims in the lake and generally just lounging casually about. We did decide to go on one date night last week, which consisted of a long walk along the lakeside and ended with an ice cream cone at sunset as unfortunately, none of the little kiosks that line the lake sell bubbles. 

dress: Forever XXI (circa 2010); shoes: Zara; sunnies: YSL

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

the après swim

One of my absolute favorite parts of this year’s summer vacation was going for a later afternoon swim in the pool or the lake followed by quick shower directly followed by a walk on the board walk or through town. Last Friday, I tossed together some tropical colors to end the day over cocktails and summer dreaming as the sun set over the lake. 

shorts, top and bag: Forever XXI; sandals: Asos

Sunday, August 4, 2013

hat's on!

One thing I love about weddings in France is how more often than not, looks are topped off with fancy hats and fascinators. For last weekend's wedding, I wanted to put together a look that was equally summer trend and compatible with hat wearing. Some of you might remember I wrote about this dress a few months ago and how I would have loved to wear it to a birthday party. I ended up buying it during the Zara sales and am so glad I did. After a quick alteration of the hem, this dress will most definitely make its way into my summer suitcases later this month! 

dress: Zara, shoes: Nine West (old); fascinator: Galleries Lafayette; earrings: Baccarat

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Weekend trip to Brittany

We spent last weekend in Brittany for the wedding of a good friend. We decided to make it a long stay as Brittany is not really “la porte à côte” from Paris and it was a wonderful glimpse into our upcoming vacation. Save for a little bit of rain here and there and some uncontrollable winds, the weekend was perfect and filled with exquisite scenery and sinful salty caramel. We spent time in four Breton sea-side towns - Benodet, Quimper, Concarneau and Pont-Aven - taking in the ancient architecture and the sea breeze and enjoying our time together and away from the scorching heat.