Thursday, May 29, 2008


I NEVER feel like going to my Savate class. Unless I am in an extreme state of agitation/anger and want to break things and put my fist through stuff, like a FACE. Then I can't WAIT. But ever since I quit my day job, became a hippie and moved to France to be a musician and cook real good, I am unfortunately no longer in a borderline rage most of the time.

This reluctancy to just makes no sense whatsoever because I am in LOVE with my Savate school and thoroughly enjoy every moment of training there. I'm not sure if it's just my usual hyperventilating "oh my god, I am walking out my front door into FRAAANCE" nerve flare-ups but every morning I think of about 250 reasons why I should NOT go to class. My stomach hurts, I'm tired...I deserve a break.. you know, I need to reLAX more and anyway I have to go grocery shopping...I should write more...being a shut-in is like, WAY more fun...I can always go tomorrow...I don't have a clean shirt...I just can't deal today...I'd rather play's better if I just sit and eat some more...I need to watch the finale of Top Chef...I HAVE to vacuum the rug for the 1600th time......blah blah BLAH. Nothing new really, I never once felt like going to Kung Fu in New York either. My mind just seems to fight my body. Oh well.

Eh, just walk it off and go. I have never once regretted it and every time have walked out of class feeling like I can truly conquer the world. Today I strolled my way to class where I am now getting used the routine. Usually four to six guy students (some young, some old) my teacher and me. Almost same exact warm up and I am starting to understand "kjdghkjhgfjdh on your back dkcuieurtb sndkjbjkrfgfjk vertical legs djvoixufrenbfnjd reverse direction's like little poppies in white noise that get through somehow. Each one leaves me with a small smile of understanding and one step closer to communicating. I feel rusty parts of my brain pushing to work and naturally string some order together from the jumble of sounds that are backwards and unfamiliar. I talk very little and just listen which is so beyond the norm for me. To be in a group of people and NOT speak is just, well...unSPEAKABLE! ARGH!

Occasionally, I know they are talking about me. I know enough French now to understand the subjects of conversations (well, most of the time...whatevs). I heard "anglais" mentioned several times. Most surprising to me (but not really) is how you can tell so much from a persons physical actions. I just smile and give my look that I have perfected here. "I'm smiling at you in my knowing way and you are not too sure if I understood but I am looking at you so you just don't REALLY know how much I understand...maybe I understand nothing.....but maybe not ;) The fact I am forced to not rely on any language communication but instead read purely physical actions has taught me to shut up and just SEE someone. Somehow I think this is a skill that will serve me well here.

Today in warm up my teacher asked me if I was staying past the warm up to do the fight class. There are a few women who come just for the thirty minute warm up but don't stay for the actual Savate class. This is incomprehensible to me so it came as a surprise when he asked me if I was tired and not staying. Suddenly understanding the question, I blurted out "MOI?! FATIGUE? JAMAIS!!" (NEVER!) Then I burst into my larger than life laughter at the absurdness of my outburst. He smiled and seemed taken aback and a few of the guys in class looked at me funny. Not being able to stop, I added "J'ADORE DES COUP DES PIEDS!". I had WANTED to say "I love to kick things!" but instead it came out as "I ADORE SOME KICKS!" which made me laugh even HARDER because I suddenly got a third eye view of myself as the silent foreign girl who only speaks to yell out to a group of people that I do, indeed, love me some kicks. And now I am also in the corner hysterically laughing at my own joke.

My teacher is excellent and precise. The last two classes I have dropped the nerves and just gone for it kicking. He works with me solo and as I figure out the new kicks and nail some golden bullseyes, he smiles and says my progress is fast. Today I learned an over the head fake-out followed by a side thrust kick. As my leg sailed above my head and followed up with a BAM!! Chassé THAT!!, I smiled wide and full. My teacher patted me on the back and said in French "you worked hard this week", as I grinned. Then he totally surprised me by saying in perfect English "It's good."

Yeah, just walk it off and GO.
France is yours.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


I usually cook my meals at home but yesterday I ate out twice in one day. Naturally jumping at any opportunity for extreme excess and overboard behavior, I thought it'd be a GREAT idea to REALLY go for the French cuisine thing and eat the following:

6 oysters
1 steak tartare (HUGE)
1 plate of fries (LARGE)
1 creme brulée (MASSIVE)
3 glasses of wine
2 beers (HUMONGOUS, as in tumblers)
1 bowl of moules frites a la moutarde (GIANT amounts of mussels with mustard and yes, MORE fries)
1 chocolate bar

This is also better known as..HOW TO MAKE YOURSELF FEEL LIKE YOU WILL DIE. I had an alcoholic seafood and raw meat revolution in my guts this morning that has flattened me like roadkill. Between the hot and cold sweats, I have managed to peel myself out of the bathroom and my bed long enough to warn any other moronic IDIOT who decides that shoveling THIS amount of raw beef and cream into their mouths and mixing it with some shit eating larva from the ocean/large quantities of alchohol...

BACK AWAY from the plate.
MORE does NOT = better.

I'd give my left arm for some Premium brand saltines.
Do they even HAVE saltines here?
PLAIN ones with no butter or pork?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


YOU: "What is that?" (point to Notre Dame)
ME: "I dunno."
YOU: "What's that huge building?" (point to Louvre)
ME: "I dunno."
YOU "What's that monument?" (point to Bastille)
ME: "Dunno."
YOU: "So uh, what DO you know about Paris?"
ME: (silence)

I have had variations of this conversation with just about every visiting house guest since I got here five months ago. People show up here with various levels of expectations. Thankfully, in the "know your city's history" department, it's been on the low side. It's not that I don't care. I do. Just not right now. I am sure I'll get into the "fun facts" mode soon but for now, I am fine with big, broad strokes..

"What's that?"
(reading giant ECOLE sign) "Uh, an old school."
"Who goes there?"
"I dunno. People."
(silence) "Wow, you're an amazing tour guide." (cue rolling eyes)

I walked through Notre Dame yesterday for the sixth time in 3 months. I have yet to actually read any of the signs inside or bother to look at any guide book about its history. I could tell you how much the candles cost though and what days they do confessions. Mostly I just look at the pretty lights and play "guess the tourists' country of origin" with myself as the crowds pack by.

Yes, I should probably brush up on some basic knowledge of when the Eiffel Tower was built and how long the Louvre is but really, for now, I am content to wander the streets and discover the present Paris, the one who painted her face for me and intoxicates me with her smells, her looks and her sounds. There's plenty of time for her baggage later. Just let me enjoy a pretty face for a moment.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Last night, great strides were made in France/USA relations as two American Girls cooked and served "Le Diner Etrange" to a roomful of French people (..and one Chilean:). My friend and talented chef, Jessica, showed up with not one, but two dishes that crazily fit perfectly with the two I had made. As the living room lit up with French, I had to laugh as it was not planned at ALL, but it looked like the Americans were cooking for French this evening.
Game time.
We got serious.
"What do you think about the jello shots? Dessert or apertif?"
"Apertif for sure."
"How about mint on top of each one?"
"And some strawberry fans."
"And a cherry sprig."
AND VOILA. "Mesdames et monsieurs..Le Diner Etrange commence."
JELLO SHOTS APERTIF. Yyyyeah, that's right. I got a roomful of French to suck these babies down like candy. I finally figured out how to use the sheet gelatin yesterday, whipped up some homemade lemonade, mixed with vodka, popped in the fridge, garnished with some fresh mint and POW. A jello shot that the French can hang with...all it needed was a pair of heels and a Lacroix dress. Next course was a deliciously hot chili that Jessica made. She used espresso and it had this warm spicy chocolatey taste. We snickered in the kitchen as the people commented on the "spiciness".
Man up, pardners. That's how WE roll, heh heh.

My main dish was the watermelon/feta/olive/mint salad with grilled shark. It turned out way more awesome than I EVER thought it would. The pairing of salty and sweet was perfection. And last but not least, Jessica brought the house down with an AMAZING dessert....A shot of spicy hot chocolate, a homemade donut that was the right amount of chewy on the inside, lightly dusted with flavored salt and served up with some berries. I LOVED seeing people's faces over the course of the night as dish after dish of "strange" and delicious food pairings were brought out. The compliments were plentiful and it was really a fun time had by all.
Jello shots, chili, shark and donuts....American girls rule.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


A few weeks ago I asked FB what he wanted for his birthday and he said nothing but a nice dinner. Of course I had to turn it into something much bigger and more complicated than that so the idea morphed into what will be the first of many Le Diner Etrange. We are having a mix of people over tonight and the only rule is that you must bring a strange dish or a strange ingredient which will then be attempted to cook into a dish. "Strange" is totally subjective here. A friend of mine suggested a watermelon/feta salad with some grilled swordfish in it. I went to the fish market today and asked for swordfish, he didn't have any but suggested Requin. "Uh.....oui, d'accord!" Sounds great! I got home and looked it up. Requin is shark. Uh...ok. I will now be serving watermelon/feta/olive/shark salad. LE DINER ETRANGE!
My opening cocktails are supposed to be red and blue jello shots. Why? Duh....F-R-A-N-C-E is red and blue, U-S-A...ALSO red and blue. See the connection here? In actuality, I think it's because I selfishly just want to see French people suck down a jello shot at a Parisian dinner party, that's pretty much all there is to it.

I ran into a problem though. I cannot find Jello anywhere in this city. I even tried to find just plain gelatin. At my local market, if I ask for something, it is usually followed by a question of how I will be serving the item. As the French grocer asked, I choked down a laugh, cleared my throat and slowly tried in French to explain what a jello shot is as though I was explaining a delicacy. The perplexed look on his face told me it was never going to happen. How exactly do you describe a jello shot accurately? "Oui pardon, vous avez plain gelatin? I need to mix it with hard alchohol and some juice, freeze it and then suck it out of a syringe...or just some tupperware will do."
The French will be receiving a touch of REAL New Jersey CLASS tonight.....

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Been a rough couple of days. Am in waiting mode while my album is shipped off to be pressed. I hate waiting. Waiting is unkind, cruel and should be banned from my life forever. Free moments to me are free moments to get bored and to really delve into the true enjoyment of being a broke, illegal alien who still can't understand a word anyone says. The French language took this opportunity to abandon me completely this past weekend. It sensed my fragility, waved a cruel goodbye and proceeded to build a brick wall around my fried brain refusing to let anything in or out. There is only one thing that can make me feel better in times like these...CHEESBURGERS. Last night FB worked late and as I rifled through my bag, I realized I had not one centime. Zero, nada. No cheeseburger. OK OK OK OK, DO NOT panic. Just wait until FB gets home, it's cool, it's cool. Tap, tap, tap..the time rolled by like a drunk snail while I sat and fumed...8PM, 9PM, 10PM....oh my god, oh my god.....

FB enters to find me pacing the living room, hair a mess, makeup stained eyes and the look of insanity.
FB: (smiling) "I'm hoooome!"
DB: (manic) "I need a cheeseburger. NOW. See the place across the street (points to Quick Burger)? It's open still. It's 10:55 and will probably close in 5 minutes. If you love me at all, you will take me to get a cheeseburger. YOU need to order. I'm not dealing with French anymore today. I'm DONE. Finis. Game OVER. I want you to order me the biggest cheeseburger they have and a LARGE fries and a diet coke, DIET coke, ok? And you have to ask for extra ketchup, OK? Got it? EXTRA ketchup, don't forget. OK let's roll!!!" (run to get bag)
FB: (sits down) "I was thinking on my walk home about the hard time you were having the past few days and...
DB: "Why are you sitting down????! I NEED A CHEESEBURGER RIGHT THIS SECOND."
FB: "OK sure, just chill out, we can get a cheeseburger in a second but I wanted to tell you some important things I was thinking about.."
DB: "If it doesn't involve meat with cheese between a bun, I don't want to hear it right now."
FB: "But we can sit for five minutes and I would love to tell you this thing that would make you feel good..."
DB: "YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND. If we are not at that counter, the one I can see right there out the window, THAT counter that may close in THREE MINUTES, I WILL DIE. I will curl up in a ball and DIE HERE. I NEED A CHEESEBURGER. NOW."
FB: "OK, hang on for one sec and just let me say this ONE thing."
DB: (hyperventilating) "Just give me the money!"
FB: "Baby if you're hungry, I could cook you dinner right now, would you like that? That would make you feel better I bet!"
DB: "I DON'T WANT ANYTHING HERE!! I WANT PROCESSED BEEF AND FAKE CHEESE! (tears welling) Please, please for the love of God, pleeeeeease take me to get a cheeseburger, I am beeeeegging you..."

10 minutes later. I am happily dancing back home across the street, tearing into GIANT bag in hand containing GIANT cheesburgers.

FB: (looks at me) "Seriously. Is THAT all it took?"
DB: (smiling widely) "Yup."
FB: "Wow...maybe I want you to be more complicated than you actually are."
DB: (chomp chomp) "Yup. Love ya!"

p.s. It did the job but Quick Burger is TOTALLY inferior to McDonald's especially in the fries and ketchup department...just in case you were wondering.

Friday, May 09, 2008


10:00AM - FB leaves for work

10:02AM - Stare off into space

10:28AM - Get productive, get productive, look at my list, my list, yes my cherished LIST, must add to list of things to do. Let's see...get evicted...check. Eliminate all personal sources of income. Check. Become illegal alien. Done. Wow, I'm super efficient.

10:35AM - Stare into space some more and twist hair around while remembering that I used to have a real TV Executive day job. I used to answer my phone like all, businesslike and stuff. I don't even have a phone anymore. I had a phone but I lost it in London and it doesn't matter because no one calls me anyway. What do I need a phone for? I don't even know how to dial anymore. Stupid phones. Who needs a phone anyway?

10:36AM - My hair is so dry, it's disgusting how absolutely DRY my hair is. What is wrong with it? My hair has NEVER felt this dry. Especially when I twist it up here like this or maybe I should leave it down. No, I'll put it back up and that way I can't feel how dry it is. Oh but now it itches, maybe I'll....

10:38AM - Dump half a bottle of olive oil on hair, drop bottle and cover bathroom in oil.

10:39AM - Add to list Clean Up Oil Spill

10:49AM - Check.

11:00AM - Lunchtime. Yeah at 11AM, whatever. Stand at kitchen counter and shovel a pound of leftover pasta into face.

11:15AM - Sit down at piano.

11:16AM - Ok, good, good, sit down and write something. Get out of your head. Stop thinking about everything. Just play and write. Work it out, work it out.
"Maaaaan I wish someone would taaaaalk to me...." No no no. That's bad.
"Sure would be niiiice if I understooood what you saaaaaaay..." Horrible. Next.
"I smell like an illeeegal saaaalaaaaad...."

11:26AM - OK just forget it, I give up.

11:35AM - Surf the net doing "research".

12PM - Lunchtime again. Shovel more pasta into face.

OK, ENOUGH. Put the baguette DOWN, go wash the bottle of olive oil out of your hair you moron, take off that crappy shirt and PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER. Put on a skirt and some heels and for Christ's sake, put some makeup on. Yes yes, poor you. So sad for you to live in Paris and how awful it must be to go wander around the city on a bright spring day. My heart burns with sympathy for you and I might drown in my own tears. Cut the Flowers In The Attic act and just get the hell out of the apartment, OK?

Where's my tiny, tiny violin?
"Oh blaaaaackness of niiight, why'd you have to maaaake me live in Paaaaaaaris...."

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


I went to Savate class alone for the first time today. No friends to help me out this time, just me and my shit French, working it out together. During the warm up jokes were being passed back and forth between people but rather than laugh, I merely gave my best "vacant yet interested with a hint of confusion and a scent of nervousness" smile and hoped no one thought I was a deaf mute.
Warm up ends.

ME: suis la? (I am here?) Oops, I mean je VAIS la? (I go here?)
ME: Um, pardon?
ME: Uh, oui d'accord. (Uh, yes's my staple standard answer for everything when I have no idea what was just said to me)

My teacher does not care that I don't understand French, he proceeds as though I do, instructing me the same as everyone else and taps me in my stomach with his glove to show me how I have let me guard down. He then taps me in my head every time I take my eyes off his. Dude, this is all getting vaguely familiar.
And then I feel it coming.
Oh no.
The tears have decided to make an appearance.
OH NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NOOOOOON!!, I scream to myself. You are NOT crying here. No fucking way. LOCK IT UP, BOULE. LOCK. IT. UP. Just WRAP those tears RIGHT on up because you are the middle of a SAVATE class in FRANCE and they ALL know you come from Brooklyn. If you cry right now, it will be NOTHING compared to what I will do to you after class when you realize you are now the "fake New York/I want my mommy" girl who was HUMILIATED by CRYING on her first day alone in class.

We move onto kicks.

ME: Oui, d'accord.
ME: Oui oui, d'accord d'accord (crazily move arms around hoping something I randomly do is something he actually asked me to do)

In my glee, I flew my right arm back and proceeded to smash it into the open window behind me which promptly slammed shut with a BANG.
"Um, pardon."

I feel like an oversized retarded martian playing Wheel Of Fortune French while simultaneously learning to kick box. Sweet. But everyone is so nice to me there and after working out, they all helped spell out the names of the kicks so I can write them in my notebook. They even correct my French.

Je ne pleurerai pas pendant le cours de savate.
Je ne pleurerai pas pendant le cours de savate.
Je ne pleurerai pas pendant le cours de savate.
Je ne pleurerai pas pendant le cours de savate.
(I will not cry in savate class.)


Tuesday, May 06, 2008


I got lost in Pere-Lachaise Cemetery today, by myself on a warm and sunny spring day. I knew of some of the notable tenants there but I just went with my camera and the intention to just get lost. The only ground I was truly excited to randomly find is that where Frederic Chopin was buried. To be at the resting place of one of those who most inspires the melodies that float around my head all the time...well, that would be something to make me smile that smile. Surprisingly, there were not that many people and I could wander without much human contact and just listen and look.

Mostly I saw old women, tending graves. Bottles of water sparkling in the sunlight, brought to carefully tend to the bursts of color through the moss. They move silent like ghost wives, laying down a rainbow of reminders that someone was loved.

Nothing is more devastatingly beautiful than flowers at a gravesite, even old flowers, long ago knocked over by the wind and faded with rain. I sat quietly by myself, listening to the sound of children playing in the schoolyard over the fence, the spring birds singing a cantata, and the wind through the trees that line the cobblestoned paths.

I thought about all the people gone from my life. And I thought of those who are left behind to keep the memory alive that yes, you were loved.

I stumbled upon a gravesite on my way out that made my heart jump into my throat. I held in a silent cheer as I looked closer. It said F. Choppin and the names below I did not recognize. The dates were a bit off and I knew it was probably not the grave of my direct influence but I stood there anyway and for a moment in time, I smiled that smile.

Rest in peace, F. Choppin. Someone loved you today.

Monday, May 05, 2008


I just returned from Savate class and on my walk back, I decided my new competitor/fighting name will be The Silent Vomit.
Disgusting, distracting and DEADLY.
All at the same time.
NOTE TO SELF: Satin red cape.

All morning my stomach was in knots about going to class today....I lost my appetite worrying about if I'll understand anything, maybe it will be just me, what if I have to speak French again, what if what if what if, blah blah blah blah. Even though I really liked the class last time, even though I spoke only French for the past four days straight and I am feeling more confident. Logic defies my frequent nerve flare ups but it is nothing new to me as it's been the same story my whole life. Whether it's a test in school, a performance of any kind, making cold phone calls, starting a new job, sport, etc. And in the case of France, add the following to the list...going to the grocery store, meeting new people or basically any activity that involves leaving the apartment in any way. They all follow the same steps, sometimes I'll mix and match them just to shake things up a little but here's what it usually involves:

1. Break out in hives
2. Freak out (internally or externally depending on who is around)
3. Tears (either cry profusely or in small whimpers)
4. Lose appetite
5. Silently vomit
6. Sudden fatigue

I am a master at making myself physically ill. I could never ever fake being sick, even as a child. I always have to subconsciously take it to the umpteenth degree for "believability". The flip side of this is that I can also make myself NOT sick and I am extremely good at walking off any illness or pain. It's a trade off, I suppose. These days I just treat my nerve explosions like an annoying tick...yeah, one that makes me cry and vomit, but whatever. If I repeat an activity enough, it usually gets better.
You know why?
What would The Silent Vomit do?
Silently vomit and KEEP MOVING before you can ask "what the hell is that horrible smell????"
Let me tell you mi amigo, that was me.
Silently vomiting my way to the day at a time.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


I found my future this week in a little room off the beaten path. I have one word for you....SAVATE. Mention to the French you want to learn savate here and chances are, you will get a quizzical look if you are a girl. I think it is just not that common to train, much less for women. But being the ninja from NY that I am, I have been interested in finding a martial arts school here since I moved to Paris. I just really like to punch and kick things. Beating the crap out of a punching bag fulfills so many unspoken desires. I think everyone can benefit from having a safe target to beat on when the going gets rough. So when a friend recommended a school she knew of, I decided to wait until my French was somewhat passable before trying it out. She agreed to come with me and therefore I would have a translator. One of my black belt ninja friends from NY was in town this week as well so we all decided to try out the class.

My NY friend and I found the school down a little narrow street and after having to ask for directions from the cute yoga guy downstairs who seemed surprised and intrigued that we were not actually looking for yoga but instead SAVATE, we made it past a little courtyard and up a hidden flight of stairs. I purposely came a little late so my French friend would be there already to translate. But something in me knew I was gonna have to fly solo.....

ENTER two giggling American girls. We open the door loudly and walk straight into a class which has already begun. Twelve French men (ranging from 9 to 70 years) abruptly stop what they are doing. They stare at us as though as though martians have invaded their school and then proceed to burst into laughter. I frantically look around and see that my French friend has not arrived.
Looks like it's French solo time pour moi.
"Um, hello, um, my French is so bad and we look for savate class" I manage to say. The teacher is an old school French man in his 60s whose father is a world renowned savate champion. This is a real deal school for locals. He looks at us for a moment and then motions towards the back where there is a changing room. We make our way back there amidst stares and I flub my question to him about my shoes which came out as "my shoes, ok, my SHOES, OK???". I quickly realized there was no English to be had here and it was time to just roll with it. He put us down front and center in the sea of boys and men who took every opportunity to smile at us. Two hot NY ninjas walk in to a bar......

Throughout the warm up, the teacher kept insisting that we "take it easy", stop if we got tired, rest some more. We kept laughing because the school we both came from in NY would push you past what you thought you could humanly do and if you did not leave class drenched in 20 gallons of sweat, you just didn't work hard enough. And now this teacher is telling us to put our heads down while doing leg lifts.


We were then told to watch for the rest of class while the other students practiced their fighting moves. We both sat on the edge of class, tortured, because all we wanted to do was kick some shit. I quickly sized up whose asses I could easily kick and who might prove a bit of a challenge. It is an interesting sport and I am going to have to unlearn some of what I already know but the students in the school seemed warm, friendly and happy to have some female blood there. Especially Martian NY badass chick blood. We were told there are two women in the whole school. Um, can we say BFF??? I have decided that I will learn WAY more French at this school than any formal French class could ever teach me. And it's harder to be intimidated when you have already sized up how you could take down the person with one blow. Conquer the fear and the language will follow.

Total immersion while kicking some ass.

That's my new system.