Saturday, December 18, 2010


From moment one, I wanted a natural birth. No drugs, no interventions, no doctors and NO HOSPITAL. A full on tree hugging, green, fuzzy, give birth in the woods while unicorns unite in a birthing circle of wondrous rainbows gleaming from all the creatures of the earth culminating in a beam of light spiritual experience I could hold in my heart of hearts forever. Over the summer, I mentioned to FB a story I read where a woman leaned on a walking stick throughout her birth. It made me think of wizards and lasers. FB immediately went on a vision quest into the Burgundy woods, found a sapling tree, cut it down and hand carved me my very own 7 foot long birthing stick, varnished and everything. It was beautiful and I was Gandolf. I practiced spinning it on the lawn while chanting...."BRING FORTH THE SPAAAAAAAAAAWN!" (insert lightning bolts)

And thus I sailed through the second trimester, feeling like a million wizard bucks until around the 7th month of pregnancy when I began to feel severe pelvic pain if I moved. As in, moved at ALL. My midwife and the sonogram confirmed that my baby was, in fact, a rather LARGE one and was currently in a posterior position (head down but turned around the wrong way) and therefore pressing on my pelvis. Whatever, I thought. I'm American with German and Dutch roots and I have size 11 feet and I am POWERFUL. None of the men in my family dip below the 6 foot tall mark and besides, I am NINJA. And a WIZARD. I am a NINJA WIZARD. And if anyone could turn this baby around, I COULD. Duh. Talk began of "he might be a 10 pounder" and even though I began to have serious issues making it up and down the 104 steps to our apartment nor could I walk more than a block without searing pain in my groin, or even turn over in bed without crying out....undeterred I marched on, knowing in my heart that I could, in fact, get this big baby out naturally.
No one could tell me any different.
No one.

I spent months reading copious amounts of natural birthing books, doing yoga and practicing deep breathing. I bought the Hypnobirth CD series and taught myself to self hypnotize every day...I followed Ina May Gaskin's guides to the letter, got into my spiritual place early on, talked to my baby every day about what a magical birth he and I would take on together in a field of wild poppy dreams of greatness. After watching The Business Of Being Born, I decided I wanted to home birth but was finally deterred by the fact that we live in a tiny 7th floor walk up with no room for a yoga mat to be spread out, much less a birthing pool and a midwife and some unicorns. In the end, I found a birthing center in Paris with a pro-natural team of midwives and OB/GYNS (WAY harder than I thought it would be to find) and decided that was about as close to the woods I was going to get. C'est la vie. So even though I would end up giving birth in the hospital/clinic they worked out of, at least I trusted the process would still be drug and intervention free. I would just bring my birthing stick and my cape to the hospital, exclaim "PREPARE THE ROOOOOOM!" (insert more lightning bolts) close my eyes and go to the Inner Earth place in my mind. To top it all off, a few weeks before giving birth, I was sent this birth video of a theatrical natural birth complete white curtains and candlelight, ancient songs, poetry in multiple languages and a couple of cats hanging out in the foreground. RIGHTEOUS! I added candles to my hospital bag and wondered where I could rent some cats.

My fairytale birth was WELL on its way.

Then December 7th came.
For most of the pregnancy, I had been obsessed with this date, I knew something would happen on the 7th. In the week leading up to it I started to have practice contractions and felt a sense of excitement looming in the near distance. I vigorously cleaned the apartment over and over, I cooked enough vegetable curry to feed an army and spent hours rolling back and forth on my newly purchased birthing ball telling the baby to turn his fat butt over while watching shitty American TV shows and ignoring the fact I could barely move from the pelvic pain. He was near......and so, as my eyes popped open on the 7th, I knew immediately that I was in early labor. The contractions were still mild enough to do housework throughout but I sensed a pattern starting. I skyped with NY friends and family all day and each time a contraction came, I laughed through it with a giddy feeling of FINALLY this show was on the road. FB and I watched movies all night and as the contractions got stronger throughout the night, I tried to get some sleep as I knew it would be tomorrow. He's coming tomorrow. BRING FORTH THE SPAAAAAAAAAWN!! (CHOOCHOO! lightning bolts)

December 8th
After a rather sleepless night, I woke up in the middle of a painful contraction that wrapped around my back like a vice. Whoa. Um.....THAT was uh....intense. I tried to sit up in bed but the pain was too enormous and for the first time, I got scared. What happened to those nice funny little contractions of yesterday that made me laugh and dream of rainbows and ponies? Oh no....did I get this all wrong? Do I have no idea what is in store for me? WHERE ARE THE RAINBOWS???!!!! WHERE ARE THE FRICKIN' PONIIIIIIIES?!!!!!!! Okokokokokokokokokokok....I calmed myself down and decided to settle in for what would be a very. long. day.

For these purposes I had made three birthing music mixes:

I switched back and forth between these three mixes all day while trying to go into myself and become some semblance of Zen. But it was getting harder and harder. Despite my efforts over the weeks, the baby had refused to turn and I was now in full back labor which can best be described as this...think of the spot at the bottom of your spine where all those sensitive nerve endings meet up. Now think of it like a giant gong with a bullseye in the center that a vindictive ogre with a sledge hammer hits as hard as he can every 30 minutes, then 20, then 10, then 5, then 4 etc. Then imagine the pain radiating around your entire body like a giant wave each time that brings you literally to your knees and takes your breath away. Stand up. Repeat. Nerves. Vindictive ogre. Sledgehammer. Knees. And on and on and on....on a hot tip from my massage therapist friend, FB started applying counter-pressure on my sacrum during each contraction and for a while it all seemed doable.....especially when the aforementioned scientist husband graphed a contraction chart in real time while carefully timing out each one...I seriously love this man, WHO DOES THIS???!

But then the snow came.
First a dusting, then heavier and heavier until the afternoon where it became clear it was not stopping anytime soon and this was, in fact, a full on snowstorm (I found out later this was the first one of this magnitude in Paris in 25 years). When they shut down the buses and the trains at rush hour, I knew we were in trouble as our clinic was across town. Paris is not like NY where you can get a car service or taxi any day, any time, any weather. Paris is Paris. She shuts down at the first sign of trouble and leaves you to hang on your own. As I had been previously warned about NOT calling an ambulance service or the fire department should I be in labor due to 45 minute paperwork processes, untrained drivers, unnecessary episiotomies and the biggest fact that they would only bring you to nearest hospital, not the one I was registered at across town....we thought if we waited until after rush hour we might have a better chance at getting a taxi. At 10:00PM I could take no more. My midwife awaited our arrival at the center and FB began the taxi cab calls.
His face said it all after the first call.
Not one company picked up the phone.
My list of carefully put together numbers yielded 0.
Think about the unicorns, the ponies and the rainbows.
What would a ninja wizard do?

We decided to just grab the delivery room bag and get out of the apartment, make our way to the main boulevard and try and find a cab there. I knew if I was moving, I could ward off the labor. I put my mind in "TRY HARDER" mode, shut down my labor as best I could, got my coat and shoes on and headed out into the snow. For me, this was actually the easiest part of the night, trudging through the ice and snow 1/2 mile up to the taxi stand in St. Germain des Prés. I had to stop a few times to go through a contraction but the icy air felt good on my face and at least we were MOVING towards the hospital. Everything was doable again. Until.....

As we got to the taxi stand, my heart lifted a bit as there were people waiting. FB explained that I was in labor and could I please have the next cab. No one said yes or no, they just ignored us. Thanks friendly people of the 6th arrondissement! (insert massive eye roll) After waiting a few minutes, I spied a cab letting people out across the street outside the famous Café de Flore and told FB to run for it. I ran across the street after him holding my giant belly yelling (in French) "I'M IN LABOR, I'M IN LABOR!! PLEASE GIVE ME THAT CAB!!" I arrived just in time to have two young men cut in front of me, get in the cab, slam the door shut and give me the "too bad for you" shrug as the cab sped off.
I could not believe what had just happened.
I stood there stunned for a second but then survival mode kicked back in.
I get it.
People SUCK here.
We moved a bit down the street towards the metro and started discussing whether I could make the 45 minute trip with a change of stations as I spied another cab coming up the small side street next to the café. It was free.
"RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUN!!!!!!!!!" I shouted to FB who took off after it.
I sprinted waddled after him and my eyes widened in horror as I saw three women in their 50s who had been waiting at the taxi stand across the street ALSO sprinting for it. These women KNEW I was in labor and they SAW me running for it and STILL, they went for it anyway. They beat us to the cab and got in. At that point, something in me snapped. Something primal and bigger than myself. That cab was MINE and those bitches were going to GET THE HELL OUT OF IT. NOW. I can safely say this is the first act of maternal love I acted on, where NOTHING in the world could have stopped me from getting my baby safely to the hospital. IN. THAT. TAXI. As I approached the cab, I threw myself on the back door and started pounding, screaming and crying as loud as I could (in French) "I AM IN LABOR! I NEED THIS CAB!! WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?? WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE ARE YOU???!!! REALLY???? REALLY??!!! YOU ARE SAYING NOOO??? I AM IN LABOR!!! I AM A PREGNANT WOMAN IN LABOOOOR!!!!!" It was Oscar worthy and it caused the kind of public scene and humiliation I had hoped for. The women finally BEGRUDGINGLY opened the door and proceeded to argue with us saying "Just call the firemen!! Why should WE get out of the cab?? It's not what taxis are FOR!", etc. etc. As if THIS weren't enough, we then had to talk the taxi cab driver into TAKING us to the hospital as she started arguing that she didn't want problems, didn't want me to give birth in the back of her cab, etc. After FB pleaded with her and she was satisfied I wouldn't "cause any problems", we were allowed in and FINALLY took off for the hospital.

(I will take a small pause outside of my usual KFD banter here....honestly, I can't find anything funny or witty to say about this incident because two weeks later it STILL angers me to the core and brings me to near tears to think about that night as I cannot imagine ANY situation whatsoever that I would NOT let a woman in labor take a taxi at night during a snowstorm....none. The fact that I found TWO sets of people within minutes of each other who had no problems doing this makes it really hard for me not to question the quality of people in this area or make huge generalizations about Parisians. I will try and do neither but suffice it to say, we are moving to Montreuil in February and no one could be happier to say au revoir to tourist central Paris than me). OK back to it....

Upon arrival, the baby's heart rate was checked, all was good. Then I was checked. Fully effaced but only 1.5 cm dilated and baby is still posterior. My heart sunk a bit but I convinced myself that it was because of the taxi fiasco and I must have managed to shut my labor down completely. So, we were left to continue laboring and I focused on opening up. I was safe now, no more traveling and I could really go into myself and make it happen. The contractions started back up heavy and though we were both exhausted and I had not really eaten all day, we continued the cycle of Nerves. Sledghammer. Counterpressure. Knees. Repeat....

3 1/2 cm dilated. YES! Progress. But baby is not turning. At this point, my midwife gives me the best advice so far. "The pain is bigger than you. You are fighting it through each contraction, try and let go into it." And so I changed my mindset. FB laid on the floor and took a nap and I laid on the bed and let myself go into the pain. These few hours I will never forget...truly transcending pain, it was as if I was floating above myself and the more I let go, the deeper the experience became, my only thoughts were holding hands with my baby and walking him into this world safely. It felt as though I had spent just a few minutes but also an eternity in this state when I finally looked up at the clock.

3 1/2 cm dilated. OMG. NO. Labor was stalling out and the baby was not only posterior but his head was not tucked to his chin but was instead straight so each contraction, his head was being pushed into my pelvic bone instead of my cervix. My heart sunk and I knew I was losing steam. I had been in unmedicated back labor since the previous day and I could not take much more of it. My midwife and I discuss the possible next step of an epidural and an oxytocin drip to make the contractions stronger in the hopes that it might make the baby turn. At the very suggestion of these medical processes, I felt nothing but doom and gloom and a sense of total could all my ponies and unicorns abandon me? I was a ninja wizard with no staff and no nunchucks and suddenly I felt very, very small. The pain of the next contraction plowed into me and I cried for the first time. My midwife was amazing at this point, talking me through it and then giving FB and I time to discuss our next steps and come to terms with it. We decided I would take the epidural as by numbing the pain a bit, it might give me more steam to keep laboring. Shivering and trying to stay calm, I got the epidural injection and the oxytocin drip. I knew the next step was the dreaded C section but I focused all my thoughts on the last chance of turning him around and making his head tuck. Pleeeeease baby, turn, pleeeeease. I will buy you twenty ponies if you do....

4 cm dilated and I am totally out of steam. The word "Ceasarean" is mentioned for the first time and I feel knives go into my soul. I did NO research whatsoever on C sections because I was THAT SURE I was NOT going to have one. I am deathly afraid of the knife and the thought of being awake during a surgery is enough to send my soul into a blood curdling scream. Tired, hungry, sick from the meds and distraught, I agreed to a C section and my OB/GYN began the preparations. The only thing that made me feel better was seeing FB in scrubs and calling him Dr. Boulé.

The surgery room. It feels about 0 degrees in here and I am naked and on the verge of a panic attack as they strap me to the table. My French is gone, looooong gone. While a dozen people hover around me speaking in tongues as far as I am concerned, I focus myself on not barfing in my own mouth or screaming...small victories with every passing moment. WHERE IS FB??? And why is this male nurse talking to me when I clearly have no idea what he is saying??? I make a mental note that I really DO NOT EVER want to be abducted by aliens because this is what it must feel like and frankly, I can't think of another situation that blows more, not even my 8th grade prom. FB arrives as they put up the paper curtain that hangs in my face so I can't see what they are about to do to me. He tries to make me feel better by telling me we are about to meet our son but I can't get my mind out of alien abductions. As the doctor feels around my abdomen, I realize...I CAN FEEL HIS HANDS. In my panic, I feebly, I can feel that but hardly any sound comes out. He is feeling around more and it suddenly dawns on me.....I just walked off the anesthesia. When in a full panic, I have no doubt I could walk off horse tranquilizers and before I can say any more, I feel a sharp, searing pain in my belly that sends me jerking from the table as my voice regains itself in full force..."I CAN FUCKING FEEEEEEL THAT!!!!!!!OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!" and I let the full panic in. Suddenly, there is a mask on my face and I am being told to breathe deeply. I stare in horror into FB's eyes and breathe in and out and in and out.......alien abduction, alien abduction.....

I wake up. I see a few hospital staff wheeling in a small boy of 4 years old or so who is moaning in pain and no one I know in sight. My head is killing me and my abdomen is on fire. Where am I? Where is FB? Wait, WHERE IS MY BABY????? I try and get up to no avail and am told by a male nurse something in French but I can't understand...where is my baby??? I say over and over....they say something and leave me alone and I feel I am going to die...did something go terribly wrong?? What happened?
This is my official hell.
A nurse comes in to tell me that my midwife is on her way to me and that everything is fine. They wheel me down the hall, I am crying an ocean of tears the whole way until at last, I see FB and he is holding a crying baby.
OUR crying baby.
Zed Emile Boulé has made his way to us at last.
I see him for the first time and suddenly, nothing else matters to me in the world.
My son is here.
On my belly.
And he wants to eat.
I cry with FB.
I cry with Zed.
I just cry and cry and cry and cry until I laugh and hold him close to me and promise to always take care of him and feed him cheeseburgers.

I didn't get the natural birth I wanted. Not even close. I got a dubbed version of Rosemary's Baby with no subtitles. But I got Zed and he's a fat, happy healthy baby with blue eyes and a smile that slays me. And for that, I'd do it all over again a million trillion zillion times.
Because in the end, I AM a ninja wizard.
Welcome to the world, Zed.
We're gonna have fun.
That's a promise.

Monday, November 15, 2010


As my 40 week due date looms right in front of me, this weekend I decided to finally get my hospital bag together, or as I call it, the "GOOOOOOOO!!!!!GET OUT NOOOOOOW!!!! LOCK AND LOOOOOOAD!!!!!" bag. For someone who tends to pack 30 minutes before a month long trip, I thought it would probably be in my best interest this time to not just wing it as forgetting toothpaste is probably slightly less of a hassle than forgetting clothes for your new human being or like, a car seat or whatever other lifesaving item I am supposed to know all about but will surely not bring. Is there really already so much to REMEMBER?

But this what I excel at.
Number one.....uh......BAG. I realized that the first thing I needed to buy for my hospital bag is an actual bag as my current options are a ratty backpack given free to FB at a science conference, my NY Knicks duffle bag that I stole from a friend in 2003 that has wiped the floor of practically every bar in New York and Paris as it has been used as my music gig gear bag (complete with gum stuck to the inside and a broken zipper), some heavy duty trash bags, or a giant four wheel suitcase with a broken wheel. Okaaaaay. I was comfortable moving across town via the metro with most of my belongings in trash bags and I have often hauled my accordion to across town gigs strapped to my back with a giant trash bag covering it like some sort of cape of yesteryear meets the homeless look.....but this time, I dunno, maybe I should present myself as a little more "professional" or something considering I will be taking a human being home with me.
"Yeah yeah, just put him the bag, he's fine there, RIGHT SON?"

So after purchasing a super cute bright purple wheely bag, I happily dropped a couple diapers in it, a blanket, one baby outfit and a shirt for myself, zipped it and called it a day.
That was easy.

Until my appointment this week. The hospital and my midwife gave me a printed out list of items to bring in TWO separate required bags (one for delivery room and one for the hospital stay). Huh? Uh......scanning the 40+ items on the list, I understood about three of them. What's a gilet? Coquilles recueil-lait? And what the hell is a gigoteuse? And why do I have to bring my own sheets? Wait, what IS this???

I enlisted the help of FB that evening to translate. I stood by the ever growing pile of "the baby crap" reading off the list, ready to pluck each item from the stack and throw it into the bag while FB put his "let's get serious" look on.

ME: OK, what's a velour pour l'hiver?
FB: A velour pour l'hiver.
ME: Yes. What is it?
FB: You know, a velour pour l'hiver. (FB's most useless learning tool for me...I ask what something means in French, he repeats it back in French. Thanks. So helpful.)
FB: know, that theeng you wear in winter.
ME: OK, is it a sweater? A shirt? A jacket? A coat?
FB: Yes.
ME: WHICH ONE?? I just said four things! A SWEATER COAT?
FB: Oui, oui, like that theeng...
ME: OK, I could be googling this WAY faster than you are helping me right now...
FB: OK! Sweater! Yes, it's a sweater. Jeez!

Item after item went on in this fashion, until we got to the brain teaser of them ALL....THE BODY.

ME: OK (scanning list)....what do they mean by "1 body"? I'm assuming it's not a corpse they are talking about and they probably don't mean "bring yourself" or "bring the body of the baby to be delivered".....
FB: Oh! Non non non, it's that theeng...
ME: Yeah ok, we've been down this THEENG road 23 times already....what makes this THEENG different from the OTHER 23 THEENGS?
FB: AAAAAAGH! Dana! It's that TIGHT theeng.
ME: Alright, I could go down about 400 inappropriate roads with that explanation....
FB: Non non! (he grabs his computer and does a quick search) It's THIS but not like this exactly! It's a body!

He passes me his computer with the following photo attached:

ME: Are you fucking kidding me?
FB: Non, non, but's that tight theeng....
ME: A sexy swimsuit. You are ACTUALLY saying that the hospital wants me to make ABSOLUTELY certain that I bring my sexy swimsuit to BIRTH MY CHILD IN. Do I need hooker heels too????
FB: NON!!! It's that THEEEENG...(he shakes his hands with frustration)
ME: Ohhhhhhhhh wait, do you mean a BODYSUIT?
FB: (with great relief) YES! YES! THAT'S IT! A BODYSUIT!
ME: (pause) Ok, well...that is actually EQUALLY as ridiculous as the sexy swimsuit. WHY would I need to bring a bodysuit to give BIRTH in?? I actually can't think of another type of clothing I would rather NOT try and give birth in...where is the baby supposed to go? Am I supposed to squeeze it into the bodysuit like some horrible modern dance gone awry? And more importantly, do I need to bring Jazz shoes?
FB: Non! You know, like maybe if you want to cover up something or something...
ME: What??? For like, modesty purposes? I'm GIVING BIRTH! Do I need a sheet with a hole in it too? OK, they can't POSSIBLY mean that....forget it....ok, moving on. Last item for the delivery room...what's a brumisateur d'eau?
FB: Oh! It's that theeng that puts water into the air.
ME: A humidifier?
ME: They want me to bring an actual HUMIDIFIER? Like, the machine??
FB: Yes!
ME: And that is supposed to fit in my bag? OK, do I need to bring a heating unit too? And some nurses uniforms? And lunch for 6? And a doctor? And some walls? And...
FB: I don't know why they put that but yes, it means a humidifier.
ME: Dude, you are worse than I am at this and it's your native language.
FB: Yeah well, whatever. How am I supposed to know what all this is either?? And it DOES mean humidifier. Hmpf.

I consulted FB's mother the next day who gave me all the answers I needed including the two major revelations that a BODY is actually a baby ONESIE, NOT a sexy swimsuit. And a brumisateur d'eau is the little water spritzer bottle you buy to spray on your face when you get overheated, NOT an actual humidifier machine.

Ahhhhh, the theengs you learn together along the way.....come on little rocker, we're waiting for you now in our sexy swimsuits.....and yes, I'm using the NY Knicks bag for the delivery room, gum and all. :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Sometimes I understand French. Other times I don't get anything at all. As of late, I have noticed it depends on my mood, level of interest in the subject being discussed, my level of interest in the person talking, quality of the "sell" (if you use lots of wild hand gestures, I am more apt to be interested in what you are saying). It can also depend a lot on the weather, if I've eaten or not, whether I feel you will take too long to get to the point, or if my pants are too tight.

Having gotten knocked up by a French boy in a French land with a French medical system, I have found myself in a whole new blur of incomprehension for the past nine months. Medical terms, insurance terms, procedure names, long windy explanations of red tape to get through the system.....multiple visits to the hospital to be explained why something is not right with my card followed by phone calls to FB to talk to the secretary while I stand there as she explains it to him over the phone and I look around the office with a glazed over blank stare like a mute foreign trophy wife with a 9 month pregnant gut of goodness pouring over my pants while I think again for the millionth time "I used to be somebody."

But not understanding is sometimes a gift in disguise. At three months pregnant, I had to get a root canal redone and a crown put on one of my teeth. I dropped my New York transplant dentist because he brought with him New York prices and instead I opted for a Parisian dentist recommendation from FB's dentist in the village he grew up in. After making an appointment with her, I asked FB where his dentist knew this woman from and he said "I think he met her once about 20 years ago or something at a dental conference and now they are Facebook friends."
Sooooooo....I am now making my healthcare decisions based on a village dentist's Facebook friend who he may or may not have banged at a dental conference sometime in the late 80s. Great. Seems one step short of the yellow pages but whatever. I'm so used to rolling with random punches here, I may as well give her a try.

I went to see her for the first appointment, told her I was pregnant and spaced out for the next five minutes as she explained a bunch of terms I never heard of while I answered in my usual pretend I know voice "ah oui, ah oui, ah oui". I've always been a less talk/more walk type of girl so I happily ended the conversation with not one question and after some xrays....PLOP...into the chair I went, expecting the usual shot of Novocaine. It never came. As the minutes ticked by and the drill came out and into my tooth with the sounds of metal sheering off metal, I realized that maybe there was something in those five minutes of jumbled words that might have explained why she was now drilling into the side of my head without any sign of using a numbing agent on my now screeching gums. I spent the next 45 minutes with a drill in my face, debating in my head whether this woman (whom I now call Dr. Torture) was actually doing a root canal with no anesthesia, or if maybe she DID give me a shot and I just didn't see it. Then I ran through the Little Shop Of Horrors soundtrack in my head. I had to remain as calm as possible as to not upset the other human being I am growing so I did what I always do in times of extreme stress.
Pretend I am Bruce Lee and just get on with it.

Having made it through the first session alive, I went back to Dr. Torture two more times, never once asking for any explanation beforehand of what would be done that day. I know it sounds crazy but I actually prefer to not know too much about anything I do beforehand. Like my dream date would be if FB said "we're going for a ride today!" then I found myself being pushed out of a plane skydiving. THAT sounds fun.

I'm applying this train of thought to the last stage of the birthing process now as in just a few short weeks, I am apparently pushing a human being out of me. I read all the books I was supposed to read, I overgoogled everything you could dream of, I heard from way too many people about their experiences. So now....I'm shutting it all out of my head because in the end, it's just a giant root canal in my vagina. I don't need Novocaine, just the floor, my baby and me.
And a margarita afterwards. ;)

Monday, October 11, 2010


This is the bag of a total moron who doesn't know how to travel safely with belongings in a city.

The open bag is mine.
And the total moron is me.
I have carried it since I moved here nearly three years ago......until I got pick-pocketed last week in the St. Germain des Prés metro stop.

I never EVER thought that would happen to me in Paris what with me being so ninja and everything. I am hyper aware of my surroundings at all times, I mistrust everyone and I am fast on the street....WAY a CAT....a CHEETAH. Yeah, whatever, so I carry a canvas bag with no zipper. So what? I clutch it to my chest on the metro while giving everyone around me the hairy eyeballs. And besides, it says BROOKLYN on it which duh...screams YOU ARE SO F'IN STREET and should scare off any potential hoodlums and hooligans, right?

Maybe the lightning method works for hyperactive people who run through their life as if being chased by wild dogs which has safely spared me from pickpockets for the past 20 years of my existence in urban living. But then I got knocked up and everything changed. Everything. I went from cheetah to goldfish in 8 months. Two months ago I had to trade in my beloved 8 pairs of Converse for the only shoes I own with actual support in them which happen to be white ugly Mom jogging shoes. And yes, I wear them with dresses because frankly, I don't give a shit anymore and my back hurts. My once cheetah pace has slowed to a near crawl and my mind is perpetually absent or is thinking about way more important things like cheeseburgers and Pad Thai. I'm the perfect bait for any shark. A pregnant, slow, dopey goldfish with a giant, open bag. I may as well wear a sign that says HELLO. STEAL EVERYTHING I OWN BECAUSE UNLESS YOU ARE SHAPED LIKE A CHOCOLATE DONUT I WON'T NOTICE AND EVEN IF I DID I CAN'T RUN AFTER YOU ANYWAY.

The scene of the crime just fits so PERECTLY. I knew when I moved into this area, aka tourist CENTRAL, that I should watch my step because where there are large amounts of prey....there are also large amounts of predators......sigh....oh hindsight.....

I moseyed my way down to one of the ticket machines and bought a carnet of tickets using my bank card. I never think to cover my hand as I type in my code which is pretty stupid because the way the machines are set up, it's really easy to read someone's code as they type it in (I know this now because I have spent the last week reading other people's codes as they type them in). As I waited for the tickets to print, I took my bank card and put it in my open change purse in my open bag. I grabbed the tickets after they printed and as I walked down the steps, I reached in my open bag to put them in my open purse which.....quelle surprise!...had been dumped over and the contents were spread across the bottom of the bag. Interrupting my thoughts of Korean BBQ, I decided I must have accidentally spilled I put everything back in and went along on my day.

It wasn't until that night at the grocery store with a cart full of Haribo, cheddar cheese and green bell peppers (weirdest pregnancy craving to date...I eat them like apples) and no way to pay for it that I realized my bank card was gone. Disappeared. Bye bye. And even THEN, I thought I must have just lost it until I looked at my bank statement the following day which informed me that I was now 600 euro lighter. I didn't even have 600 euro in my bank account to begin with. Thanks a lot, overdraft system. That was REALLY HELPFUL TO ME. I thought I left the whole "criminals stealing money borrowed on YOUR CREDIT" thing behind me......guess not.

To get reimbursed by the bank, I had to make a formal declaration at the police station. One hour later after an Oscar worthy performance dramatically recounting a detailed description of what happened in my shit French to the police officer "I descended the do we stairs....and OH LO LO....I bag it is not good, it is like this (miming upside down).....but I didn't think then that there is baaad.....I went to the grocery in the night and I have no money for candy and then I think OH LO LO, someone....someone in the day takes my things."

Hey, I'm progressing.
Signed, sealed, delivered.

8 more weeks left and I can begin my return to cheetahland (not to be confused with cheetOland).
Until then, this goldfish in white jogging shoes needs to get her mind off the donuts and back in the game.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Today was one of those perfect Parisian September days and as I have been stuck indoors for the most part since April either sick and knocked up or sick, knocked up and recording an album, I set out on a wander to remind myself that yes, there is still life outside your apartment......

Ohhhhh Paris....sitting in the park pondering your pretty face, I lose the disgust I have had for you these past few weeks that you are an unfriendly and unloving city. I'm just cranky because my best friend just moved away and I'm too knocked up to run fast right now or hit stuff or have dance parties and margaritas. But sometimes you DO make me feel a bit like THIS....

I wandered around and got caught behind a pack of 17 year old French boys. All smoking. All snickering. All cocky. All wearing the exact same jeans. And all under 5'7. This is my future, I realized, as I am going to have a French boy as a son in two months. Wait, how did THAT happen? Is he gonna smoke and complain about everything in a thick French accent? Maybe by then, I'll actually understand the language..... favorite English school has a new affront to my senses up in the metro..."A new language! A new job!" As what? A serial killer whose signature is to lick the flag onto his victims? Seriously. Couldn't they have found a model who doesn't have bloodshot wandering dead eyes?

And last but not least, the award of the day for most unfortunate clothing store name goes to.....Teenflo, who, by the way, sell business casual, not maxipads and zit cream.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I'm done.
It's over.
My patience has been worn thin and torn.

If one more person of French descent and more specifically, a Parisian, tells me I look fat, tired and/or red, I will unleash the New York apeshit that has flooded over the surface. Do you REALLY need to let me know I am "very very beeg"? Gee, thanks, I hadn't noticed THAT I AM ACTUALLY PREGNANT. Your helpful reminder was SOOOOOOO NECESSARY. Thank you also for making a point to tell me every time that I enter your store how red my face looks. It's called a motherfucking ROSY PREGNANT GLOW, OK? And I don't tell YOU how pasty your permanent grimace looks so lay off my face before I pound on yours.

(Taking a breath) OK, maybe it's the hormones talking but in the past two months, I've been pushed down the metro steps, consistently not offered a seat on the train, told by a local concert organizer he "doesn't kees zee pregnant women" when I went in for the customary bises, told by a Parisian musician "I hate zee sound of your instrument" (pointing to my piano) not more than 30 seconds after we finished playing a packed show, constantly asked if I'm OK because "I don't look so good"....all this in addition to daily reminders that I am big and red and apparently look like I am going to die at any given moment. WTF? Maybe I should just start telling random strangers here as I push them down a flight of stairs that "hey, by the way, your face is HUGE and you look like you're gonna DROP DEAD, you should really rest more....ARE YOU OK???"

I know this is a city of critics and the almighty "opinion", I've known it from the moment I arrived and for two years I have played it nice, patiently trying to learn the language and stay friendly while trying to make sense of the jokes of circular "wit" that abound here. And by "wit", I mean basically just insulting and critiquing everything around you in as many words as humanly possible.

Well, not anymore.
Why? Because I ACTUALLY AM fat, tired and red and I've HAD IT with the deconstructive criticism from a bunch of whiny self appointed critics. I recorded an entire album in August. What did YOU do Paris? You closed down and took another month off and now everyone is oh so cranky to be back. Awwwwww so sad for you. If you don't have anything nice to say, KEEP YOUR TRAP SHUT. I don't need to know that you think my baby must have an ENORMOUS HEAD and that it must be hard to walk if you're like me. Just sell me my half kilo of fucking ham and MOVE ON. And yes, I KNOW MY LIPS ARE CHAPPED, you didn't need to point that out too.

I miss the USA right now with it's giant dose of friendliness and a big fat smile to go with a side of "HOW ARE YOU TODAY?"

Paris, you are my home but you are reeeeeeealllly trying my patience right now........

Saturday, August 07, 2010


Yes, that's real a real breeze at sunset in the country.
We should be a Prell ad.
It's August in Paris.
And everyone is on vacation.
Everyone except me and Erica.
In the spirit of "finish every goal you have or may have in the future NOW before the child arrives", I am recording, mixing and mastering The Resident Cards album this month with Erica, le BFF and l'autre coté of our duo. I've never made a record with a girl before. Having spent the past 10 years in rock or punk bands with boys, I'm used to foul mouthed, smoking, farting, drinking, belching, totally inappropriate discussions about women and their lady parts, eye rolls, arguments, garbage, garbage, more trash and having a REALLY good time except when I wanted to throttle all of them.

Now I live in France and I'm in a folk duo with a girl where we have daily discussions that go something like this...

DB: You're so awesome!
EB: No, YOU'RE so awesome!
EB: OK! We are BOTH so awesome!
DB: You look pretty today!
EB: Awwwwwww, so do you!
DB: You know what's really pretty? Our record is sooooooo pretty!
EB: It's AMAAAAAZING!!! This is soooo fun! Here, let me help you clean those dishes!
DB: Awwwwww, SO FUN!

We work every day and night, cook vegetarian lunches and take "watch Weeds or True Blood" breaks and sometimes we are crabby and we cry and then we laugh again. And then we work more. Because we are ninjas. We mix and master in London on August 26th and after a year of working the minutiae of these songs, it's SO AWESOME to have them recorded properly.

Sometimes we get frustrated and have to take a dance break from the grind.....

One awesomely pretty record coming soon.....

Sunday, August 01, 2010


Living in France, I often miss Daffy's (High Fashion Low Prices!)and Marshalls (Brand name fashion for the entire family!) and especially Loehmann's (Off price specialty retailer of designer fashons!). Ahhhhh.....the the thrill of the aimless wander through these stores on the hunt for a designer bargain, somewhere buried among the piles of ugly print dresses and Mom jeans. These stores were my Ativan, immediately calming and utterly satisfying.

I get my Ativan twice a year in Paris where YES, once again, this week ends the season of SOLDES SOLDES SOLDES (SALES! SALES! SALES!) I quietly sat out the whole month of the sales as I refuse to battle the crowds and for me, there is no point because at the end of the sales are the best prices and guess what's left? LOTS OF MY SIZE. LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS. It's the joy of being a big girl in Paris. All the size 0s, 2s and 4s have long ago been snapped up but me? I can wide load shop happily now.

Today is my time. SOLDES are ending and I have the crazed itchy fingers, heart racing excitement of knowing I will be spending the day wandering aimlessly through store after store. I also have a new card in play this year.....THE PREGNANT CARD.

It took me a few months to really feel comfortable using this one but as I waited sheepishly in line after line, I was scolded by at least a dozen Parisian women (all over 50) who would look at me with the most scornful and pitiful look and say incredulously, "WHY ARE YOU WAITING IN LINE?????!!!" as if I was the dumbest person ever to grace the planet. I'd stutter out a "welllll.....uh.....I don't know....I" to which they would respond "YOU ARE PREGNANT! YOU GO TO THE FRONT! IT'S YOUR RIGHT! IT'S THE LAW!" as if by standing in line, I was somehow messing up the rules for everyone else.

It took all of two times waltzing to the front of the grocery store line for me to realize....THIS ROCKS. I have four months left of this card, and goddamnit, I'm using every last one. Move over beeyatches, I got 12 items on a 7 item limit and I got giant a dressing room and I will happily push past your size 0 ass BECAUSE I CAN.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010


FB: (bursting through the door) I have a present for you!
ME: YAY PRESENTS! (jumping up and down)
FB: You're gonna loooooove it, they are sooooo good!

He opens a bag and presents me with this....

ME: this like sheep brain baked in veal eyes or something??(automatic sneer)
FB: No, it's an Oeuf en Gelée!
ME: A what???

I pick it up and sneeringly examine it more closely.....

ME: this a JELLO cup?
FB: Delicious!
ME: Is that an EGG in the middle???
FB: Yup. SO good.
ME: Sooo...(putting the foreign object down)'s basically ham and egg jello.
FB: Pretty much.
ME: Ham and egg jello cups....ugh (sneer turning to grimace)...That. Is. SO. GROSS.

My mind races back to various Jello molds I encountered as a child, with enticing names like "Ambroooooosia Jello Salad" all of which ended in a big fat ten year old EWWWWWWWW from me. I'm a fan of the Jello. I would happily rock a bowl of American over-sweetened cherry flavor Jello in a heartbeat. It's the putting things INSIDE the Jello that I find to be a horror show.

I am usually adventurous when it comes to trying new food but THIS thing presented in front of my eyes just takes the cake. WHY would ANYONE put HAM and EGG in JELLLLLLLO????? The ten year old takes control...

ME: EEEEEEEWWWWWW! I can't eat THIS!! I'm gonna BAAAAAARF! It's so GROOOSSSS!! EWWWWW!! What are you DOING?? You just plop it onto your plate like that??? BARF-O-RAAAAAAMA!!! HAM JELLLLLOOOOO....GROOOOOOSSSSSS......
FB: It's not JELLO. It's in ASPIC and it's AMAAAZING. TRY IT.
ME: (poking at it)...ugh....ok, fine.

I cut through the center and gingerly try a bite.


I scarfed the whole thing in three bites and it's official. I am a convert to the Oeuf en Gelée, or as I call them: Jello Cups of Champions. Some have a tomato in them, others have cornichons, a bit of parsley or estragon. I have no idea what time of day the French eat them but these are my new breakfast of champions.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Today I went back to the 10th arrondissement to visit my favorite old men. First stop was my Savate teacher at my old boxing school. I hadn't called him since dropping off the face of the planet months ago and I missed being made fun of by all the old men at the school so I picked up some of my favorite tarts as a gift and paid a little visit. Upon entering, my teacher smiled a wide grin and said "PAS VRAI!!!!" (NO WAY!!!)
"OUI VRAI!!!" I replied wholeheartedly.

After giving him a giant American hug and explaining my giant belly, we sat down to catch up. When the topic of whether I am having a boy or girl came up, the convo went like this (in French...)

TEACH: Is it a boy or a girl?
ME: Almost certainly a boy.
TEACH: AHHHHHH, felicitations!!!
ME: Yeah, I am very happy. (pause) The women are difficult.
TEACH: Ah yes, very difficult.
ME: TOO difficult.
TEACH: Of course....
ME: I like boys.
TEACH: Clearly.
ME: The women make like WAAAAH WAAAAAAH (wild hand gestures)!!!
TEACH: (nodding seriously) Ah yes, ah yes.....

Apparently I suddenly hate women in baby language. Lately I have found myself saying things that makes absolutely no sense to me or anyone around me. I don't really know what I meant by "the women make like WAH WAH" and I am fairly certain my Teach had no idea what I meant either so we just let it go at that......

After catching up with all my favorite old dude boxers, I went to my favorite Indian market up the street to stock up on supplies. The owner Raj never remembers my name but instead calls me New York. He learned English while working on a Texan steamship from 1972-1978. He has three kids and still loves his wife after 37 years. He told me the key to a happy marriage is to tell your wife she is beautiful every day. (He's right.) As I was leaving, we had the following convo (in English)....

RAJ: WAIT! YOU WILL BUY MY MANGOES! (he declares with a raised finger and ushers me to a large stack of boxes where he delicately selects a box from the middle)
ME: (laughing) Oh really? I will?
ME: How much are they?
RAJ: 5.90
ME: How come the sign says 3.50?
RAJ: Oh no, those are for other mangoes. Those mangoes are BAAAD. You will NOT buy those mangoes. Very bad, VERY bad. (opens a box to show me some sad looking shriveled up fruit)
ME: Then why are you selling them?
RAJ: I am not selling them to you, YOU ONLY BUY THE BEST MANGOES!
ME: OK OK, I'll buy a box. But they BETTER BE GOOD. IF NOT.....
RAJ: Yes, yes, I know, New York comes to find me and finish it.

I laughed so hard that tears came to my eyes as I promised Raj that in my current state I wouldn't be hunting him down and that the only thing I would be finishing are his box of best mangoes (which, consequently, ARE the best mangoes I have tasted in a long time).

I so heart old dudes.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Spent a lazy Sunday at the inlaw's house outside a sweltering Paris. They had left on vacation the day before so I did what any normal person would do the minute they left the the cabinets for snacks (as rifling through other people's kitchens is a favorite sport of mine).

Past the rice, beans, soup mix...blah blah boring.....through the chocolate, cookies and in the mood.....dried pasta....blech.....weird packaged eyes widened as I found a bag of what looked like....YES IT favorite candy in the whole entire universe.....BUBBLEGUM. A GIIIIIIANT BAG OF BUBBLEGUM.

(yes, the slippers are also pilfered and are my new favs)

Trying not to get too excited because as I've learned, you never know what weird flavor French candy might come in, I let out a small yelp as I ripped open two pieces and popped them in my mouth. Chewing furiously, an oversized gummy smile came over my face.
(Spit out first two pieces).
(Rip open three more).
(Spit out, rip open three more)
(Make my own mix of cola/citrus/cherry/tuttifrutti)

I have always been a gum fanatic with Bazooka cherry flavor in particular being my lifetime gum of choice. I could always roll with Bubblelicious and Double Bubble in a pinch of course, but I would inevitably return to the master of all gum, Bazooka Joe. In the third grade my mind got blown when I walked into the dime store to buy my usual handful of Bazooka and saw a new product calling out to me from the shelf....GIANT BAZOOKA GUM. "Whaaaaaaaaaaa?!!!!" my nine year old brain shrieked as I shook with excitement. 10 pieces in ONE???? It's GUM and more importantly, it's BIGGER???? IT'S BIG GUM????!!!! This oversized piece of sugar rush overcame all my senses as I yanked it eagerly from the shelf, ran to the cashier, dumped my change and proceeded to stuff the entire jackpot into my mouth.
(Insert nine year old crack high)

I chewed that piece all day and into the night when I proceeded to go to bed with it still in mouth. At some point during the night the mangled wad fell out of my mouth and adhered itself to my face, then my nightgown, then my sheets and eventually my hair which resulted in large chunks of pigtail needing to be cut out the following morning.
Lesson learned?
I need more gum.

That same year I was doing my fleeting stint as a softball player on the presciently hipster named "Oakland Plum Sox". My father has a photo of me up to bat in mid swing during this time with gum in mouth, determined look on my face to kill the ball and the bat about two feet below where the ball actually is. Needless to say, I was never any good. My most vivid memory is during a game, standing in my out-outfield position, the snack bar perilously close to my right, my gaze is permanently fixed on it and my thoughts are HOTDOGS BAZOOKAGUM HOTDOGS BAZOOKAGUM HOTDOGS GUM HOTDOGS GUM.....when....
The ball knocks me on the head and rolls away as I realize I just added another notch to the "The Plum Sox SUCK" club.

I spent the entire afternoon on Sunday chewing and bubble blowing my way through the entire bag of Malabar Bubble Mix while covering my body with the fake tattoos that come with each piece.

(**NOTE: ROCK ATTITUDE must be said with a French accent)

I AM famous.
Life is good.

Friday, July 16, 2010



ME: (jolted awake) Who is ringing our doorbell this early????
FB: I don't know.
FB: I don't know....
FB: J'arrive!!!!! OK OK!

We threw some clothes on and as FB answered the door and I heard him accept a package, my heart skipped a beat and I knew immediately what had just arrived.....


It all started a few months ago after my perception of the world and how it works came to a grinding halt in 15 short seconds. Hooked up to a sonogram machine, I saw and heard for the first time a heartbeat not my own but instead from a small globular alien with a giant head and shortened limbs growing inside of me. Maybe for some, this is as natural an experience as could be, one to print out and send to everyone you know as the first glimpse of your oh so precious little cupcake.
No, I say.
Not for me.
My brain immediately went to THIS PLACE......

Straight out the window and into the world of space aliens and creatures from the beyond. I have just always assumed I was made of plastic. I have no tolerance for blood and guts and what goes on inside the body. I have no clue where any of my organs are and frankly, I have never really cared. I go about my daily business just fine, thanks. But now I hear this thumping sound over the monitors and it hits me like a Godzilla smackdown...THIS THING IS INSIDE OF YOU. AND IT COULD EAT YOU ALIVE. IN FACT, IT IS EATING YOU ALIVE RIGHT NOW.

I instantly fall in love with it.

It was at this pivotal moment I became obsessed with the daily question "is the monster still alive?". Having a creature from the lagoon living inside of you but not being able to hear or see it on a daily basis can drive a control freak like me off the deep end. Every day I meditated on "letting go"....basically, on changing my entire personality. One morning I caught FB online looking at medical gear...
ME: What's that?
FB: It's a home fetal monitor
ME: Oh nononononononononono, bad idea. BAD IDEA.
FB: Why?
ME: 'Cause I'll be that neurotic retard who ends up with it permanently taped to my belly wearing a pair of headphones all day "just to check". My OCD will LOOOOOVE THAT. No way. I'm trying to be a hippie instead and let go, ok?

As the weeks progressed and I started to feel actual movement, my neuroses diminished and we had the "fun" idea last week to order a stethoscope off ebay. Why not? What a "fun activity" for us to be able to hear the heartbeat whenever we wanted to. As usual, all logic flew out the window and as FB tore open the box this morning, I jumped into bed and yelled "OK DOC! I'M READY!!" After a quick read of the directions, he set the stethoscope on my belly. After searching around for a few minutes, I felt my familiar panic starting. He can't find it, he can't find it, oh my god, oh my god. OK, calm dooooooown, he couldn't find his OWN heartbeat a few minutes ago. Relax, just relax. But with every passing minute, I felt my own heart rate rising until finally I couldn't take it anymore. "JUST GIVE IT TO ME". After a quick Google search of "hear fetal heartbeat with stethoscope" (which brings up about 100 other jackasses trying to do the same thing) and ignoring all the advice saying it is difficult to hear at home with a stethoscope , I laid down and started furiously pressing into my abdomen. Listening intensely, all I could hear was bubbles and water. Oh noohnoohnoohno....tears welling, I tore it off of me and threw it across the room. "WHY DID WE BUY THAT STUPID THING???!! I CAN'T FIND THE HEARTBEAT!! WHAT IF THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG?????" As I laid back down exasperated and in tears, I felt a sudden jerk of movements in my abdomen and the alien gave me good solid kick as if to say, "LISTEN YOU IDIOTS, LEAVE. ME. ALONE."

Oops. Sorry, alien. I'll knock next time....

ME: That definitely qualifies as most asinine waste of money EVER. WHO BUYS A STETHOSCOPE?? Why did we DO THAT??
FB: It's not a waste, I'll still use it.
ME: For what exactly?
FB: We can check its heartbeat after it's born.
ME: (rolling eyes) Yyyyyyeah, ok. Cause it'll love THAT so much, two crazed parents chasing it around with a stethoscope just to "make sure everything is ok". That sounds really productive and I'm sure its friends will love that...."Dude, why does your loser Dad keep trying to check you heart?"
FB: OK fine, I'll use it to check my OWN heartbeat.
ME: You mean the one you couldn't find five minutes ago? A little unnecessary...
FB: Why is that unnecessary?
ME: Because if you are standing there breathing and moving and thinking you need to check your heartbeat, chances are YOUR HEART IS DEFINITELY STILL BEATING.
FB: Whatever. I'm still gonna use it.
ME: Yeah ok, doc. ;)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Four months ago I unexpectedly dropped off the face of the planet. We had some house-guests from NY staying with us at the time and I was exhausted and feeling pretty ill.

After hosting a particularly boozy dinner party that included this....

my jambalaya or as I call it, Four Meat Frenzy, I awoke at 3AM and raced to greet the porcelain throne. As I slowly lifted my head out of the toilet, it suddenly dawned on me......the unexplained exhaustion, the coming and going flu symptoms......DUUUUUDE. YOU ARE TOTALLY PREGNANT.
(Blank stare at the toilet lid)
(Blank stare at the toilet lid)
Good job.
Off to a great start there, champ.

Whatever fleeting pregnant glow I got from the surprising but good news quickly faded as I settled into what I now call my Three Months In The Dark Ages. This was me on a good day.....

My exciting Parisian life now consisted of sleep, shuffle to bathroom, throw up, cry, whine, eat watermelon, sleep, shuffle, throw up, cry, demand cottage cheese, throw up, whine, sleep.....and on and on and on....

There were a few detours along the way, i.e. the "McDonald's Incident" about two months in. During one of the rare 45 minute periods in the early afternoon where I actually felt I could stomach more than water and fruit, I had the genius idea of giving myself and the growing monster inside of me a real "treat". A real congratulatory edible gift in the form of a Big Mac and some fries. So, under the guise of going birthday gift shopping for FB, I quickly threw on my first makeup in two months and headed out the door to the golden arches across the Seine, the whole way thinking fries fries fries fries fries fries fries fries......
Entering the restaurant and making my way to the front of the line, I was suddenly overwhelmed by all the pictures and blurted out "I'll have a Big Mac menu please, LARGE....aaaaaaand also a Fish wait, make it a Fish Royale, also a large but um, just one soda, thanks. Uh, yeah."

What possessed me in that moment to order TWO large meals for myself is beyond me. What was a bad idea in the first place was spiraling into a disastrous idea by the second. I slunk to the back of the restaurant feeling sure all eyes were on "that fat girl eating two lunches BY HERSELF". I quickly downed the Big Mac and got rid of the box evidence of my double lunch. Scarfing down two servings of fries and topping it off with one giant piece of fake fish smothered in fake mayonnaise, I let out a burp, sat back and enjoyed exactly two minutes of satisfaction my delusional binge had brought me.

And then it started.....the burps, the unidentifiable stomach sounds....uh, I don't feel too good. Oh no....I REALLY don't feel too good. I have to get out of here. Have to get home. NOW. Hot sweats starting. Heart beating faster, gotta get home, gotta get home, get home get home get home get home....

I half ran out of the restaurant in a panic, up the stairs and outside. OK fresh air, fresh air. Across the Louvre and to the river, ok, ok, ok I can make it I can make it. Overcome by a wave of nausea, I had to stop half way and lean over the side of the bridge....NOOOOOOOOOOOO, I WILL NOT PUKE MCDONALD'S INTO THE SEINE, I WILL NOT PUKE MCDONALD'S INTO THE SEINE, I AM NOT THAT PERSON, GET A HOLD OF YOURSELF. I forced myself upright and somehow made it home without losing my cookies, crawled back into bed and spent the next five hours paying DEARLY for a two minute binge. FB IM'd me and asked where I had gone..."to buy you a present"....I left out the part about ripping my insides out with chemically treated beef and partially hydrogenated oil.
Some things are best kept to oneself.

8:30PM FB arrives home, upon opening the front door....
ME: (from the bedroom) Huh? What smell?
ME: Sewage? Huh? I don't know, I think I'm a little gassy from the pregnancy...
FB: (enters the bedroom and is immediately thrown back two feet by the stench, covers his mouth) AAAAAAAAAAGGGGGHHHHH, OPEN THE WINDOWS! (races to windows and throws them open) What is your DEAL???!
ME: Oh, uh ok, yeah I don't really know what's happening.....strange....
FB: What did you EAT today?
ME: Oh, you know....just the usual....watermelon, some toast, cottage cheese....
FB: That's it?
ME: Yup, that's all. Pregnancy, man. (pause) Crazy what it does, ya know?
FB: (furiously lighting matches over the bed) Are you sure you didn't crap in the bed or something?? Seriously. That smell is HORRIFIC.
ME: (lifting sheets as a new wave of stench is released) Yeah, um, I'm sure. I'm just...ya know....a little gassy....from uh...pregnancy...
FB: (fleeing from bedroom) AAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!!! (from other room while opening the rest of the windows) Oh my GOD, you're blowing me out of the apartment with this.
ME: (innocently) Yeah I know, I'm reeeeeeally sorry. Stay on the couch tonight....I'll get a grip on won't last long I's just....what comes with being pregnant.....

The next morning I fessed up to what really happened and vowed never again to set foot in the golden arches. After I spilled the beans, FB got a smile on his face...
FB: Guess what?
ME: What?
FB: I did the same exact thing two nights ago but I didn't tell you about it because I knew you'd be mad that I didn't bring you any.
ME: Huh????

Apparently, he was working late and went into McDonald's to get a late dinner, got overwhelmed by the pictures and ordered the exact same thing I had....a Big Mac menu and a Fish Royale.
I guess we're in sync after all.

p.s. Now in the middle of the second trimester and having traded in the McDonald's for quinoa salads, I am back in the world of living laaaaaaaaarge. One baby rocker is on the way.....

photo courtesy of Naomi White

Friday, March 26, 2010


I knew that Erica and I were real friends the moment she came over and gave me a pair of her jeans that didn't fit her.
Clothes trade = automatic BFF
It was further sealed the night I got a giant care package from the states and we pored over US Weekly and InTouch Magazines together while eating peanut butter sandwiches with bags of Cheetos washed down with giant glasses of milk.
Guilty pleasures are way more fun when shared.

Now we have a folk band together called The Resident Cards and we throw a fantastically fun monthly party and bake cookies.
If you're in Paris, come say hi.
And have a chocolate chip cookie.

(photos by Elena Usacheva)

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Yes, the English language school with the unfortunate name of Wall Street Institute has come up with yet another genius ad campaign. I really don't know what their original intention was but the first thing that comes to mind when seeing three people lined up with half baked smiles and flag tongues hanging out at me is "LICK MY BAAAAALLS".
I imagine the following conversation each time I see these ads on the metro.....

BRITS: 'Ello! You therah! Yes, you French people! Terribly sorry to distuuuurb you but we would like to inquire if you might be up for a good old fashioned ball licking, perhaps this evening? A right proper slap and tickle if you will! You see, we've brought along our cheeky little American ally heeeah and as we've most CERTAINLY been licking HER balls for AAAAGES, we thought it might indeed be a jolly good ham shank to lick some French balls or perhaps vice versa...

AMERICAN: Hi! I'm Janet! Let's lick some Wall Street balls!! Yaaaaay!!! Gimme all your money!! Yaaaaay!!! Oops you lost your house but I bought a new Ferrari yaaaaaaaayy!!! Lick my Ferrari yaaaaaaay!!

The following ad reads "How much more does he make since he speaks English? +35%!"
Does he also make a lot more since making racist Chinese eyes?

And last but not least.....

Great job, guys.
I imagine students are lined up around the block to get in on this.
(cue eye roll)

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Last October, a NY friend of mine recounted a story to me that sent chills down my spine and lumps into my throat. Every city dweller's worst nightmare had actually happened to her. The story began with "I heard scratching in the wall" and ended with "and then a giant rat ran across my face while I was sleeping."
Cue vomit.
Urban paranoia?

I left the conversation feeling terrible for her living in NY and grateful for my vermin free Parisian apartment. I thought about all my previous apartments....Los Angeles where I used to see cockroaches the size of small cars that would send me into screaming fits of madness as my two fat cats just sat and watched with feigned looks of interest.
FAT OVERFED CATS: " didn't expect US to chase that thing, did you? Look, can you just open another can of Sheba please cause your screaming is REEEEALLY making us hungry."

New York where my band rehearsal space was on a street we called Rat Alley because everyday at dusk like some horror film, the vacant lots on the street would fill with a swarming mass of giant rats, an ocean of vermin playing among trash cans and broken children's toys. Terrorized by the horrific squeeking sounds I pretended NOT to hear, I used to sprint to rehearsal down the middle of the street as though I was running from my death.

New York where the lack of bug size was made up for in sheer numbers when each summer rolled around and the 24 hour cockroach party would kick into full swing in my kitchen and where the occasional mice passing through were met with the same look of disdain from my lazy cats.
FAT OVERFED CATS: "Hey Dana, I think I just saw something scurrying all over the apartment. I don't really know what you are doing screaming with that broom but I'm just gonna sit here and squint at it while I lick my ass, ok?...sigh....this is soooooo boring.....oh hey, do you have anymore of those Friskies treats?"

Ahhhhhh, the good 'ole days. How very lucky I am here in Paris, living on the 7th and last floor to have never seen anything close to vermin in my living quarters, not even a cockroach. Nothing. I don't have cats anymore but it's ok because there's nothing to fake chase anyway.

So with that, I shrugged off her story along with my nightmares of Rat Alley and went to bed. The next night I had a friend over to play some music. As she opened the front door to leave, we both saw it at the same time. Something black came scurrying inside and into my kitchen. Praying it was just my overactive imagination, I was utterly shattered to see my friend's face curl into a "wow, that is really gross" was real. This was happening.
Cue jump onto chair followed by screams of "FB!!!! FB!!!!!! A RAT!!! A RAAAAAAAT!!!!!! KILLLLLL IIIIIT! OH MY GOOOOOOOOD!!!!!"
My friend calmly looked at me hysterical on the chair and merely said "aw, that's so cute. You're doing the cliché jump on the chair thing. OK, I'm going home, byeeee!"

While I stood on the chair hyperventilating and crying and marveling at how my NY friend's story was seemingly just a precursor to my own horror, FB tried to root out the....THING. He couldn't find it and I quickly realized that it was not going to die tonight. It was going to live. In my apartment. Somewhere. And that sleeping on top of a chair was not an option for me. I'd have to eventually make my way to our bed.
Our futon bed.
Where we sleep eye to eye with whatever crawls around ON THE FLOOR.
Oh God, I wish I had a Xanax.

I made it through the night and the next few nights without seeing any more signs of...the THING. I refused to call it a rat, instead trying to picture a little black mouse with cute eyes and who talks and says cute little things in a French accent like "si'l te plaît, may I have a bit of fromage?" When in doubt, delusion is the place to go. We mouse-proofed our kitchen the best we could and tried to figure out where this little French fellow came from. Reverting to my knack for fantasy storylines, I decided I knew EXACTLY where he came from. We had just been in the countryside and had brought back with us a giant box of apples picked directly from the field, loaded into the box and packed into the car to bring back to Paris.
THAT'S IT!!! It's a little field mouse!! Of course!!!! My very own little Ratatouille, probably scared, alone and wondering why there is a 5 foot 9 monster with a broom screaming "DIEEEEE!!! DIEEEEE!!!!" at him. Maybe he even plays a little country mouse banjo at night to remember his time in the fields.
I suddenly felt sorry for it.
And with that, I left for NY on a three week trip with not a thought about mice.

FB is a friend of the vermin. He grew up in the country and they don't bother him in the slightest. When I first met him, he had a family of mice living with him that he had named things like Newton and Matilda. He got rid of the mice only after I refused to come over anymore. So it should come as no surprise on my return from NY, he announced " little mouse is still with us, I've seen it a few times and it seems to really like your music studio area." OK. OK. ENOUGH. Listen, you little poor country mouse. I KNOW you must be terrorized but I am NOT sharing an apartment with you and my keyboard is NOT A MOUSE LITTERBOX so CUT THE CRAP. Just pack your shit and GO, ok? GO.

I went into a cleaning frenzy, upending every corner of my apartment and finally I found it....his food stash. Under my stereo speaker. He had been picking berries off a flower arrangement in the apartment and had stacked them all very neatly in little piles. Eaten, half eaten, and ready to eat. Hey, at least he is organized. After dumping all the berries in the trash and vacuuming every corner as loudly as possible, I pronounced to the mouse "MAMA IS BACK AND MAMA DOESN'T LIKE MICE OK? TIME TO MOVE OUT. NOW."

And I never saw him again. I occasionally pictured little country mouse with his little kerchief tied to the end of his little stick, making his way through Paris after being thrown out by a cold and heartless me. Maybe he was playing a tiny violin on the subway somewhere and had made new friends. At any rate, he was out of my apartment and I had my own cute little Ratatouille story. Oh ho ho ho, how absolutely adoooooooorable!

Last week I was in Burgundy spending a week with my mother in law. As I wandered through the field where my little Ratatouille used to live, I sighed and said "I'm sorry little one for taking you away from your home. I hope you are ok wherever you are." I phoned FB that night. At the end of our conversation, he cleared his throat and said...
FB: Um, I have some bad news.
FB: seems as though....well....I've seen another mouse.
FB: Yyyyyeah, he was in the kitchen last night. A very cute little brown one and he looked so scared and....
FB: Look, calm down, I'm just as upset as you are about this and..
FB: ME? I didn't DO ANYTHING!! We have mice, OK? I will deal.
FB: Yeah, ok. I'll kill everything.

My delusional field mouse story came crashing to a grinding halt when I told my mother in law about it and she simply replied "oh, no, that wasn't a field mouse, a field mouse doesn't eat apples like that". But.....but.....

Upon return to Paris, I marched into my apartment and yelled to any vermin within a half mile earshot.
You DO NOT want to meet me.

It seemed to go ok for a few days until night before last when I was sitting on the couch and I heard a noise in the kitchen. My blood ran cold, my heart stopped and my eyes widened like saucers as I saw something fly across the room and into the wall behind the radiator.
Pick up phone.
Dial FB.
"Get home. NOW. I am going to DIE."

We searched in vain. No mouse. Nothing. Our traps are empty but my heart is full of anguish and rage. The most delusional story can't save me now. In bed last night I awoke at 3AM to the sounds of scratching. I thought of my friend in NY whose story began with "I heard scratching in the wall".

I know how this story ends.
And it's not good.

Friday, February 19, 2010


2 years and some change later.....I've made a rule for myself to get over my phone calls in French fear so I have made myself pick up EVERY phone call. Every last one. Known number or not. Doesn't matter. Face the fear. ROCK the fear.


Cell phone rings.
I look.
Private number calling.
Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.

Feeling particularly ballsy from my triumphant return to my French Savate school today.....I OOOOOOOWN THIS LOCKER ROOM! RAAAAARRRGH!

......I pick up the phone and for some reason decide to go with an exaggerated shrill American accent about two registers above my normal voice...
I realize that I just screamed into the phone which would be startling no matter what country or language this was in when I hear a voice clearing and a quiet woman's voice says...
"Ah, bonjour Madame, je....."
And that's about as far as I got before my listening skills clicked to the OFF position, my conversational French really kicked in as I interrupted her by shrieking in English "I DON'T KNOW! I'M SORRY I DON'T KNOOOOOOOOW!!!"

Dial tone.
She hung up.
Gee, I wonder why.
Sure hope that wasn't important.
Two more points for team IDIOT.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


February is the best month ever in Paris.

WHAT? WHYYYYYY?, you might's cold, rainy, snowy, wet, and the days last roughly 3 hours....what about the beautiful springtime breezes and the sunshine and the flowers and the little children who laugh and frolic in the green, green parks? Or the early fall with the days still long and the leaves begin to shed their green for golden shades of red and orange while you sit in a bustling café with a steaming hot chocolate carefully mulling over your book of poetry...and oh, isn't it WOOOOONDERFUL to be in PAAAAAAAAAARIS?

No, it's not.
I prefer February. Why? Because I live on the beaten path of tourists in the center of the number one tourist destination in the world. In fact, the street I live on may as well be called BEATEN PATH and I guarantee if they opened a TGIF on it, it would THRIVE. Beginning in early spring, my neighborhood is descended upon by the 15.6 MILLION annual visitors per year (World Tourism Organization) and does not let up at ALL until January when my spirits rise as it fizzles out mid month. Then comes the month I have been waiting for all year. My precious, beautiful, adored month.....FEBRUARY! YESSSSSSSS.....

I can walk along the Seine without meeting anyone and play pretend it's olden times, like, before 1950....sometimes I try and pretend it's WAY OLDEN TIMES and what shoes would I wear if it was like, 1700 something and would I smell bad? And how would I be moisturizing? Could I drink the Seine then? Would I still be tall with teeth? Would I walk like THIS or like THAT...the possibilities are endless when no is around....

The tourist boats are empty....

I can walk the five minutes to the Louvre and enjoy the art minus the throngs of commentators.....

But mostly I like the low grey sky that rolls in and out like a never-ending ocean. It makes me feel dark, pensive and somewhat dangerous. Then the city belongs to me in my own pretend olden times way, with my own pretend dagger in my own pretend shawl as I pretend dance along a very real river.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I got sucked reluctantly into technology by having a band and a blog.
I actually hate my cell phone.
I hate iphones.
I hated Myspace then I hated Facebook (although I keep checking it).
But most of all, I despise Twitter.
Twitter is the Grandaddy of useless.
I never understood the point of telling the universe when your last crap was (although isn't that what I'm doing here? Busted.) Seems to me the world is too busy updating what it is they are doing instead of actually DOING SOMETHING without looking at a computer screen or small gadget while doing so.

But then I went on Twitter and found something I never expected in the sea of inane 140 character life updates and spelling mistakes........

So, my Twitter song series was born......