Greetings from the American Girl
They're out there salting the holes used to put up the stakes for the neighborhood market tents. Yikes. It's freezing here.

I believe this post from September is finally justified...winter has arrived!
With one real class left, I thought I should let you know that Paul Giamatti has been teaching my French class. Pretty awesome right? Who knew famous actors moonlighted as level two French instructors? It's pretty hard to believe what an excellent instructor he is, but considering Giamatti's role in the 2004 hit movie Sideways I'm really not surprised by his extensive knowledge of French. Just think about all the French wine he probably had to drink to prepare for that film!

Okay, would be pretty swell if I were attending French classes taught my movie stars, but Paul Giamatti isn't really teaching my French course. Someone who looks just like him is! I'm serious. EXACTLY like him. And if I were more comfortable being a stalker with my phone camera I would have a picture to prove it to you. My teacher's resemblance to Giamatti and his ability to entertain the class like a Hollywood pro are two of the major reasons I've continued my language studies. Trying to communicate with my fellow French? I'm way beyond that. I'm just doing it for pure merde and giggles...

Right....I wish. No, I've been in French class since the day I arrived. Having taken zero French before boarding a plane to live in Paris, I had to get my study on immediately. I've taken classes just about everywhere, (here and here if you want to know) and now I am le tired of the whole thing. My current classes through the Mairie de Paris have been the best yet, but I'm over sitting in a room with an unmotivated crowd of seven (down from 23!) for two hours 2x/week trying to stuff present tense verb irregularities into my brain. Just like eating my vegetables, I know French practice is good for me, but man oh man I don't want to eat my vegetables anymore. I want to skip straight to dessert fluency!

But like a good little nerd, I went ahead and signed up for another semester of classes. I just hope Ryan Gosling is my next professor. Pretty please with sugar on top.

Time to study, eat din din, and finish off the bag of les colas I bought on a candy rampage today.

À tout à l'heure
Commitments are piling up, and I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. This happens every once in awhile especially when living abroad starts to feel like normal life. I'm trying to adjust by using lots of highlighters, post-it notes, and decorating my planner. I actually sort of love when my agenda gets a little cooky because that means I have an excuse to redesign my time management game plan. I recently went old school again and said sayonara to my online system, and now I get to reacquaint myself with the joy of scratching items off my to do list (aaaaaaaah). And while I'm not quite at this level of organizational awesomeness, I aspire to have a life binder like Sara Cotner. I was introduced to Sara's wise ways at a teaching conference a gazillion years ago and wish I could be as put together as she is. The girl has seriously got her act together. She also planned a wedding for $2000 dollars--no small feat in today's world of wedding industry temptation.

So when I'm not crushing on Sara, I'm trying to remember that life comes before blogging and that sometimes I need to step away from the computer to make time for pursuing new goals, specifically one big, giant goal that's been simmering on the sidelines for what feels like forever: pastry school. Yippee! Maybe this seems like a bizarre path to go down considering my recent gluten allergy discovery, but I am more than ready to get the pastry show on the road. Wrap me up in cute aprons and take me to the kitchen! It's time to go get the pastry school application party going! This is one thing I don't mind adding to my to do list (mostly because I write it down in glitter ink adorned with lots of smiley faces).

I'm over and out to get my shizzle together and revise an application essay or two. See you soon(ish)!
Even the French founded electronics chain, Darty, is getting into the spirit of the U.S. presidential elections. Do you think the product's packaging says something about where they're throwing their support?

Totally whipping out my American flag toothpicks for these recipes. 
Is this the Parisian street scene you've always imagined? The one where a broken toilet adorns a tree on the grand promenade? Probably not, but that's my purdy, lovable Paris. You never know what special decorations will surprise you on your walks around this fine, beautiful city! Now let's see how long it takes for someone to a) clean it up or b) use it. I'd put my money on option (b) before (a). You can call me gross or realistic, but I'd prefer realistic.

Bon week-end à tout le monde and don't forget to keep an eye out for those little things that make Paris special ;-)
2 weeks ago...

It's 3AM and I'm sound asleep in my cozy little bed when I hear the chain across our apartment door rattling and something (or someone?) quite forcefully trying to open the door. Instantly, images of someone breaking in run across my mind and a slow paralysis creeps from my fingers to my toes until I'm laying there completely still with fear. Of course, that's when I do what every sensible wife does. I woke up mon mari using that classic loud whispering voice that really isn't whispering.

Me: Maaaaaaaaaaaaaatt, are you up?

Mon mari: Now I am. (Typical...we've got an attempted break-in on our hands and he's upset I disturbed his shut eye!)

Me: I think someone is trying to get in our apartment. Do you hear that noise?

Mon mari: What noise? I don't hear anything.

Of course now there's zero noise and I sound like a crazy fool.

Me (still using fake whispering/muffled panicking that's clearly not conveying his need to investigate the situation): Keep listening! I heard someone pushing on the door. The chain lock was definitely making noise!

Mon mari: I think it's OK. It's the people upstairs or the wind.(Really? What happened to jumping out of bed with a baseball bat?) Go back to sleep.

Me: How am I supposed to sleep now?

I spend the rest of the night analyzing every creaky apartment noise and don't get an ounce of rest. The next morning I'm still convinced we had a would be intruder trying to creep in. We've had some issues with squatters in the building, and I was sure one of them got a bit confused and decided they'd tuck in with us for the night. Someone, ahem mon mari, isn't at all concerned and carries on like we almost didn't almost have to fend off a burglar. Gosh.

I skip out the door early to go for a run, and quickly peek around the hallway for any evidence of the previous night's noise. Half expecting to see someone snoozing on the stairs, I was even more startled to see a fat, black cat perching on the landing leading up to the next floor. At 7AM in a dark hallway that cat was all about sending shivers down my spine. I immediately decide it belongs to one of the squatters and hustle into the elevator so I don't disturb the sleeping squatter on the floor above. For the next few days I check for the cat and listen for night time knocking, but there's not a peep!

Fast forward to two nights ago when mon mari and I are sitting on the couch...

Mon mari: Do you hear that?

Me: What? (I listen and then quickly begin to freak out...) It's the noise, it's the noise!!!! I'm not crazy!!! YAY!!! It's the noise from when I woke you up the other night!! GO CHECK NOW!!!!

Mon mari is apparently concerned (where was he last time????) and gets up to go to the door. And what to his wondering eyes should appear? Not Santa (disappointment...), but a BIG BLACK CAT. A big ol' kitty throwing its weight against the door stirring up quite a racket, creating enough noise that some might say it sounded like an attempted break-in...

We've got quite the cat burglar on our hands. Sneaky felines...

Lock your doors folks! There's a cat on the prowl!
I am allergic to gluten. My taste buds just writhed in pain as I wrote that. They're protesting to keep the Parisian pastry parade marching down my gullet. My taste buds want the constant stream of candy and Berko cupcakes to continue making its way into my mouth. And I tend to agree with them, except, favorite pastries, sweets, and gluten filled products are making me sick. 
Up until a month ago, I never suspected gluten was the culprit causing my anemia. But after doing some research, gluten started to seem like the bad guy. While I don't have any of the digestive problems that plague people with a gluten intolerance, the other symptoms I read about began to match up--unexplained anemia, weird skin rashes, anxiety, fatigue, and tingling in my feet. While these maladies could stem from a number of things, I knew something wasn't quite right. I couldn't be that tired from walking up a flight of skin couldn't be that sensitive for no good I convinced the doctor to order gluten tests. She wasn't so convinced herself, but I proved that M.D. wrong (or rather, gluten did).
All three lab tests came back positive and just like that gluten is guilty. On the one hand, I'm happy I have an answer and can move forward with getting my body healthy. On the other hand--HOLY MOLY, I need to stop eating gluten! It's now been two weeks since I've confirmed gluten is the enemy and I haven't come any closer to making significant changes to my diet. I actually at three cupcakes on Friday. Three. It's possible I'm in denial. Very possible. No gluten means no croissants (real ones at least...) and that means serious business. I need to rally the strength to walk by a bakery without stopping (a new route to work is clearly in order) and get into the kitchen to start whipping up my own creations or pastry withdrawal is imminent. I can't imagine that would be very pretty. At least the gluten gods have enough sense to keep dairy safe. I can eat stinky, scrumptious French cheeses to my heart's content. Oh, and macarons too! Hallelujah! 
Off to read David Lebovitz's gluten-free guide to Paris and perhaps cry into a bowl of Christmas jelly beans.
Do I look like I speak French? I sure don't feel like it. I may be able to breeze through the basics, but put me on the spot and I'm all sorts of flustered. Yet, somehow, someway I am asked for directions at least once a week, if not more. This past week I was stopped 5 times! 5 times folks! And you know what that means? 5 lost people wandering around Paris thinking they were on the right track. Do you know what happens when some poor soul asks me how to get somewhere? I panic with a capital P! Even if I know exactly where the person needs to go, I mumble two phrases of preschool French and walk away praying we never bump into each other ever because I know I've sent them on a wild goose chase. Sometimes (read: rarely!) I send them off with confidence, but there's still a sizable group of Parisians who spent way more time trying to get from point A to point B because of my direction anxiety. Please forgive me! Especially you poor old ladies wandering around Opera last night. Hope you made it to your hotel!

Be back soon friends. Hope you had a great start to the week!
On Thursday I stopped in my local pharmacy to pick up a prescription, and it went a little something like this...

Me: (in my best be-nice-to-be French) Bon soir Madame Pharmacist! I need this prescription filled please.

Madame Pharmacist: (in rapid fire French) blah blah blah blah blah blah...that's a lot of iron. Are you sure that you need 8 bottles of iron?

Me: Oui! (insert big, please don't ask me more questions because I don't understand you smile)

Madame Pharmacist: I don't think we have that much....blah blah blah....blah blah blah? (smile smile, wink, wink)

(other pharmacists smiling and nodding)

Me: Oui! (I have no idea what you just asked me, but oui works).

Madame Pharmacist: Oh OK! blah blah blah...congratulations...we'll have to order more...blah blah...pick it up tomorrow. Have a nice night!

Me: Merci, avoir!

It wasn't until later when I replayed the pharmacy conversation in my head that I realized I told them I was going to have a baby. Was that what I said oui to? S*#t! Why can't I learn to listen better?! No, there won't be a bébé in Paris anytime soon--my iron is just that low and I'm finally doing something about it...some people lose things in translation, I apparently gained :)

Bon week-end tout le monde!
{6:30am} Woke up and took wayyyy to long to pick out an outfit that was only marginally better than throwing on whatever
{7:00am} Ate 30g of honey pops and 125ml milk for the most important meal of the day--> I'm measuring my food now, fun...
{8:00 to 8:30am} Rode the metro to work and failed at Sudoku for the second day in a row
{8:30am to 4:30pm} WORKED...
{5:00pm to 6:00pm} WORKED job #2...
{6:00pm to 9:00pm} Back to WORK at job #1...
{9:00pm to 9:30pm} Avoided eye contact with loud, annoying drunk passengers on my way back home on the metro
{9:30pm to 9:45pm} Hauled a giant, perfect pumpkin the 5 blocks to my apartment-->this counts as a workout
{10:00pm} Made and ate my last box of Kraft Mac 'n' Cheese--> I was nice and sort of shared with my husband, like 5 bites
{10:30pm to 11:30pm} Watched 2 episodes of season 7 of The Office; we're a bit behind...
{12:00am} Jumped into my flannel cupcake pajamas and hit the hay
When this is a typical day, my "exotic" life in Paris, doesn't seem quite so exotic. Granted, the pumpkin haul was pretty awesome, but that's unusual :) As life in France normalizes into something resembling what life was like in the U.S., the less and less I have to "write home about." Everyday things that once held me captivated by their sheer Frenchness, are going back to being everyday things. It's a good transformation...I think. I actually have a life here now. A real one with a real job, real responsibilities, real friends, and a real waistline that grows with every croissant that finds its way into my mouth. A positive, happy reality is setting in, but that means that the fairytale that was my first brush with Paris is fading into the past. As the storybook version of life here slowly disappears, I have to remind myself that it's OK to not feel like regaling you with a tale about my trip to the grocery store...or the great deal I got on fake Marc Jacob mouse shoes (€10--> eeeeeek!). I don't have any plans to jump ship from the blogosphere...just thinking about the balance between living life in Paris and telling the story of life in Paris  As Holly pointed out in her recent post over at The Healthy Everythingtarian, "Life > blogging. Always." 

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