Category: Random

Deep in South

Wow, it just occurred to me that I haven’t talked about our family vacation !!! How can I not share a 2,000 Miles road trip to the land where one of the most popular songs is: ‘Whiskey in my water’?

After last year’s post-vacation meltdown, I was adamant that this year was going to be 360 degrees different and I had a checklist to keep my eyes on the ball:

– No flying – CHECK. We were going to drive so if the kids loose it we will be able to stop and let them have a total freak out while I drink wine or eat chips (my number one food comfort)

– Go somewhere I cannot be judged on my parenting skills in high stress situations – CHECK. We were traveling to Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, bystanders probably will have no fucking clue of what ‘tu vas arrêter de faire chier ou pas????’ means and DOUBLE CHECK since we were renting a beach house with our friend Rafa, dad of two, who as a good old Marseillais swears like a truck driver. And thus cannot possibly judge me by the number of times I say FUCCCKKK!!!!

– Travel with child free and zen master/helper/masochist/friend who can suffer 50 renditions of ‘Let it go’ belted out by a trashier/less talented Von Trapp family without wincing – CHECK. Our girlfriend Maro from Berlin agreed to carpool from NYC. The girl is a top finance executive and a rock band drummer. We are a lightweight challenge for her…Plus I have checked and there were no major international airports between DC and Miami thus a reduced likelihood to dump us at a local mama’s fried chicken dinner.

What I love about road trips besides the fact my 3 kids are restrained in their car seats 4 hours a day is that you really get to discover the country you visit and in this instance, the very country I do now live in. And I have indeed learnt many,many things:

– Americans have this reputation of never traveling overseas. Europeans are often gobsmacked by this fact and often use it to evidence ill placed superiority. I now understand better why they don’t travel overseas: each state is really like a freaking different country…In the space of 2 weeks, we traveled to Gritty Philly, Complex Virginia between North and South, Rugged North Carolina, Laid Back South Carolina, Proud Romantic Georgia and for some reasons though the time zone has not changed I felt I had to adjust.

– Indians had no horses – originally! They used to travel by foot until the Spanish conquistadores brought horses into the country. Can you believe this? This fact just floored me. I hate you John Wayne.

– People don’t ‘mix’ in some states. I keep bragging about how every single kid the age of my children is of mixed cultural heritage in my neighborhood Well…Down in the South, blonde people are really, really blonde and black people are really, really black. And they don’t sit at the same tables. I swear. And then, I remembered that interracial marriages was legalized in those states less than 50 years ago in this part of the States. Blimey. I got a whole new understanding/appreciation for the civil rights movement in this country and of why it is a fucking big deal that Obama was twice elected president. Anyway, people on the beach could not figure out our crowd like AT ALL. What are these people: the mix raced couple with 3 ‘Chinese’ children, the Aryan lookalike family and the single child free almost 40 year old woman. An why do they ‘speak Cajun’?

– Americans do the beach differently to Europeans. They are fucking pros: 3 coolers on wheels, a gigantic gazebo that protects 6 adults, 4 teenagers, 3 toddlers, 6 foldable chairs, beers, food for the whole day, music player, planned activities american football for mornings, volleyball with proper nets for afternoons, tanning with feet in the ocean during low tide, BBQ for sunset. Meanwhile our crew of 5 adults and 5 tots were fighting over 1 seat/cooler placed under the one and only umbrella when we were not busy pushing ‘going to fall apart’ strollers on the sand…All this plus the non stop ‘Tu vas arreter, oui????'(‘are you going stop??? in a very, very loud voice) did set us apart. LOSERS. The funniest thing is that – unbeknownst to us when we booked our vacation – staying in Hilton Head Island meant a certain etiquette, savoir-vivre and bank account …so our fellow beach goers were rather dismayed by the bunch of tramps we were.

– P thinks that her twerking in our home bathtub is actual swimming, which is a problem when you rent a house with a not child safe swimming pool. I will spare you the drama…but yeah…Parent of the year award :/

– DH does not know the difference between a dolphin and a thin shark and thought it was clever to flap the water to call out a ‘dolphin’ while swimming with G. Someone will have to/be made to rewatch Blue Planet.

On this note, I shall finish with a list of country songs titles from the Highway radio. Hope all of you are having a kick ass summer! Xoxo

Made in America
Whiskey in my water
I am in hurry
Like a cowboy
Chicken fried
Kiss me when I am down
Keep them kisses coming
Small town throwdown
(I am getting) Drunk on a plane
Hungover [please do appreciate that this song often followed the one title above – gotta love country music radios]
That s how we do summertime
Standard American
I don’t dance
Country girl (shake it for me)
Hope you get lonely tonight
The Quarterback
Bartender
Eighteen wheels
Backroads
Boondocks

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S-T-O-P

I hate bad customer service. It is one of those things that really bug me. Living in New York does not help; I get even more demanding now. However, something very out of character happened to me: two weeks ago, I almost tipped someone so that they stopped doing their job so well. It was a very kind beauty therapist…

Disclaimer: this post is kind of graphic and could cause discomfort. Read at your own risk. In my defense, I am muy loca these days.

With all the stress leading to our summer road trip down South and DH’s work news, I decided to finally claim my Mother’s Day present: a long overdue Mani Pedi and a massage. But since I, more than ever, needed to think ‘practical’, I opted out from the massage and asked for bikini waxing. It was a no brainer: I was going to the beach in South Carolina, it was going to be hot and whether I liked it of not I had to  help DH supervise the kiddos in the sea. So yeah I had to do IT.

It was high time that I finally overcame my fear. I avoided any ‘maintenance’ job down there since L was born 2 years ago because I have this (irrational) belief that a tiny tiny strip of wax was going to rip open wide my C-section scar. Hey, people tend to sweep under the rug the excruciating pain of C-section recovery: ‘it is standard procedure, don’t sweat it, you’ll be fine…You will be like C- what again?‘ Bullshit !!! I am still traumatized about it and every time L is pinching my scar (and all the fat around it)-for fun- I swear I cry. Note: this boy is obsessed with fat so either he becomes a cosmetic surgeon, a personal trainer or a soap maker. Bets are on.

Anyway, I was feeling strong and did not flinch when I confidently replied ‘Brazilian’ after the beautician asked whether I wanted a a Brazilian or a basic bikini. But then, she started to voice her concern when she saw me naked:

Wow, it’s a lot…Are you sure? Have you done it before?

Yes, I did it once when I was in Sao Paulo years ago. It was way before I had kids…I know it is all a mess down here these days but see, I had 3 kids [as if…] and I had this C-section so been scared to do it again bla bla…’

The more I talked, the more confused she looked but she proceeded anyway…That’s when I started to get confused.

She told to lift this, and lift that, and turn this and turn that. WTF???!!!! I was so shocked that I could not utter a word and just obediently followed the instructions. Thousand thoughts and screams were bursting inside my head with the loudest one being this one:

Obviously now I know for sure. I never had a fucking Brazilian ever before!!!!! Because if I had, I would definitely know!’

I swear it felt like a thorough OBGYN checkup combined with an hemorrhoids consult. Every time I thought she was done, she was going back to it again…and AGAIN. Even mental teleportation to my calm and safe haven where I ‘go’ to when the kids piss me off (FYI recently that place has been the Catskills Mountains in the Fall season) failed to calm my nerves.

She finally paused:

‘You have very, very sensitive skin…

Me thinking: No I don’t it. Perhaps I am bleeding because this part is supposed to have hair to protect it?

Yes you are very sensitive, so I am going to ask you one last time. Are you sure you want me to take it all off?

At this point, it is not confusion anymore but sheer disarray:

What do you mean? Surely, there is nothing left to take off… I said partly smiling partly wimping partly melting with sweat. Let’s just pause now to imagine a selfie of that expression…hahaha.

Realizing that I would never understand what she meant even if she was to speak very slowly and articulate every single sound, she just silently pointed her finger at my  ‘sacred line’. My eyes rolled out of my head and I finally screamed: ‘Please stop now, please’. 

‘Sure. Let me ‘clean’ the rest some details.’ She said getting her tweezer out to finish me off.

When I left the treatment room, I noticed that:

– I have been in there for almost an hour

– I could barely walk

– I should have thought better than wear tight jeans

And most importantly, as I was slowly moving toward the seat where my pedi would take place, I saw that all the customers were staring at me big time as if  wondering whether or not I had my whole body waxed…Once home and after all the redness disappeared, I started to laugh. In the last few years, I have been telling people how the whole IVF process, multiple vaginal exams during my two pregnancies, my two deliveries by C-section  destroyed all my sense of privacy and intimacy and claiming proudly that now old prudish me could face anything bla bla bla. As if no other woman on Earth could understand a word of what I freaking went through.

Turns out any woman who had a $50 full brazilian wax (or any gay man period) probably totally gets it!

Beijos

 

 

 

Pet peeves

My week has been an odd mix of work related meetings, a boozy dinner with my hot mama girlfriends (which I am still struggling to recover from), a delightful visit from a friend whom I last saw at my wedding 10 years ago and the sad realization that I have become the latest war hatchet between my sons. Their daily fights have been pretty much as described below:

G: she is my mama
L is scratching G’s face.
G: go away she is mine !
L is strangling me to prove that I am his property
G: Stop!!! And whacks L’s head out
Me? In my head, I am singing the opening verse of that Whitney Houston song that says:
‘I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside’ bla blabla

Weird week, one minute I was all pumped up by my girlfriends (after 2 bottles of red wine) and very ready to conquer the world or at least Corporate America and the next minute, I am stomping my feet on my bathroom floor almost crying and thinking of cutting out my belly fat. I have been on a healthier diet for 10 days but actually gained 5lbs! It’s probably all the binge eating during the President’s Day week end. 4 toddler play dates in 3 days explain the amount of comfort food. (Note: as I am writing this ranting post on my iPhone with my left hand, my right hand is stuffing my mouth with Lao Larb gai. Redlipstickmama style).

I also haven’t written all week and I missed it a lot. It has really become my safe haven. However, today the only thing that I want to talk about is the stuff that has been getting under my skin lately. Nothing death threatening or serious, just stuff that bothered me and that for some reason still bothers me when I think of it. I am being very childish about them and often rant on my own, in my own head so I thought it might be a sane thing to share these and get it over with. Here’s my top 4 pet peeves (this week). I tried to go for a more ‘Top something’ number like my ‘Top 5′ but I could not find a fifth one; my life must be way nicer than I thought. Anyway, here’s the list:

– parents who dress their babies and tots with College Tshirts (Harvard, Yale, Princeton of course…). I mean, of course you should be proud of attending such prestigious institutions but actually labeling your child like this? It really bothers me. I mean, C’mon the poor thing still poops in diapers and probably thinks that their mobile is actually an entire fucking solar system. What if the kid is a drop out, will they look at the onesie and think:’yeah I did my old folks proud’? It actually got worse. The other day I saw a tot wearing a tee shirt saying ‘Palo Alto’…Seriously.

– finding crap in my shoes. When I leave my apartment (and my kids behind), there’s something resembling a breeze of fresh air that seems to be going through my entire body. I am so giddy to get time on my own and then bang my toes touch something unorthodox and I go absolutely nuts. I really do because I have to remove my foot, often clean my sock, and start an in-depth search for what is now bloody delaying my freedom! I have previously found: lip balms, grapes, chocolate chip cookies, banana, wooden toys, baby socks, a baby boot, used facial tissues and my absolute favorite, DH’s underwear.

– dog owners who don’t pick up their dogs’ poop because it has snowed. What is wrong with people? Snow is NOT magic powder making shit disappear, transforming Harlem into Lapland and turning my organic butcher into freaking Santa Claus (his tenderloin is still pricey). Poop is everywhere. So here I am taking my kids out after the snow storm and they are understandably frantic after being stuck inside for so long. They run towards pristine hills of fresh snow until they actually choke from my pulling them away by their hoods just before they dive into a pile of poop. Them being dirty is one thing but L actually eats and licks snow and ice from the street behind my back. Ewww.

– L grabbing my boobs. It has never been cute for me but now it is infuriating. It is non stop, night and day, 100 hundred times a day. He tries and tries to get his hands into my bra and I really refrain hard from screaming:‘these are my boobs! I let you borrow them for a while when you needed food but it is OVER now’. He is getting bolder too…More recently, he has been caught several times trying to get his foot into my panties. I have a very strong sense of ‘my body is mine’ and this little boy is pushing me right now. I caught myself looking at him sideways this week wondering if I should really worry about him but then, I saw him licking cookie crumbs off the floor and concluded that he probably had not yet understood that he was not a little puppy and that my name was not Lassie.

Anything that really annoys you these days?

Some pics from White Central Park and me rolling down a slope (and hurting my neck…a little)

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Addiction

Sara Goldfarb: [about her pills] Purple in the morning, blue in the afternoon, orange in the evening.
There’s my three meals, Mr. Smartypants. And green at night. Just like that.
One, two, three, four.

Requiem for a dream (2000)

[Preliminary note: this post contains themes much heavier than my usual stuff such as drugs, alcohol, gambling shit]

We just got back from a 5-day trip to Vermont and yesterday at 8pm was the first time in the last week or so that I have found myself on my own, truly. Nothing frivolous, it was just me on my way to grocery shopping. But just as I was going to exit my building, I sat down in the cold lobby and felt …bummed out. I was feeling down and had been feeling this way for a couple of days. Because Philip Seymour Hoffman died.

I feel stupid and crazy just saying it out loud. And if I am being perfectly honest, it is just not that he died that makes me sad. It is not just because I will no longer have the joy of watching his immense talent. It is just not because, in a completely silly way, I felt connected to him, having seen him many times with his young son by his side cheering ‘in unison with me’ the ups and downs of our team, the Knicks. Every time his debonair face was shown by the Madison Square Garden production crew, I would squeal like a mad fan. I was also always surprised by how the Garden’s crowd, who usually cheered comedians like Chris Rock and simply ignored non-TV peeps, would actually give a very warm welcome to this character actor. I guess it is what real talent does: it breaks barriers. So, as I was saying, I was not only sad because he died but also because of how he died: an alleged overdose. His death is yet another proof that addiction often wins out.

Addiction pisses me off, uneases me and pains me. It pisses me off when DH stops listening to me while playing Angry Freaking Bird or Candy crush snubs me. It uneases me when some of my loved ones take prescription drugs unsupervised to ‘take the edge off’. And it pains me because deep inside I am terrified that I was born to be an addict.

I always felt blessed that I never touched hard drugs when I was presented with it. I mean, I am still dabbling with a smoking addiction for Heaven’s sake. Indeed, in the last 14 years I relapsed twice for a couple of years each time. People are bewildered by the fact that I can go through 7 or 8 years without one fag, just to fuck it up one evening after a little too much alcohol and a little too much fun. It’s always the same story: a flickering lighter, a few inhalations and the self conviction that ‘it’s no big deal, I have kicked this one before’. The sad truth is that I have never kicked out the dependency but rather let it sleep…every now and then.

In College, I saw cocaine, ecstasy, acid, a lot of shit passing through. I always refused to try any of it, claiming that my anal retentive persona could never let myself go entirely anyway so what was the point? But truth to be told, a part of me was scared shitless about what addiction to this crap could do to me. I could not even handle booze. I once woke up in an unknown apartment, age 20, covered in my own puke after 1 year of what I now know was college binge drinking but was back then called ‘having fun’. I woke up, I stole a T-shirt, and threw my top in a street trash can and walked home, my brain about to explode, and bawling my eyes out. I almost fucking killed myself in my own puke. What the fuck? Unbelievable. And for what? NEVER again. As I watched people walking to work and looking suspiciously at my disheveled self, I remember thinking: ‘I should really know better’.

Indeed, I have seen my mom, a reformed pathological gambler, feeling invincible while being possessed by the thrill of losing or gaining it all. And it looked very ugly. I have seen an intelligent woman incapable of making any (let alone the right) decision for herself or her family. Her feverish eyes and mad giggling when touching a stack of cards have scarred me to life. And I was (and probably still am) convinced that addiction, that feverish look and mad giggling, was/is in my DNA, in waiting to be unleashed. It is paranoia probably but maybe not.

Casinos for example freak the hell out of me. When people hear laughter, the clinking of cocktail glasses, the whispers and sighs after  the roulette stops, I hear my parents screaming at each other about the mortgage not being paid, the chatter of women cooking non stop in our kitchen to feed the gamblers, drunks dancing on music from a badly tuned sound system and the muffled cheesy ballads from the headphones my sis was always wearing to cover the noise. However, despite all this, the few times I have been dealt some cards or given some coins for slot machines I become absolutely frantic. I can feel the surge in my veins. I just want more of everything.

That is why I try to stay the hell away from temptations. Full stop. And I feel I am OK, I am on top of this. But when stories about some guy who died relapsing after decades of being clean emerge, it fucks me up big time. And I get scared about addiction in general. And I am also so angry. Especially when that dude was one of the greatest. In his Time obituary Aaron Sorkin, a recovering drug addict, wrote about PSH: I told him I felt lucky because I’m squeamish and can’t handle needles. He told me to stay squeamish. And he said this: “If one of us dies of an overdose, probably 10 people who were about to won’t.” He meant that our deaths would make news and maybe scare someone clean’. 

I hope so.

R.I.P Philip Seymour Hoffman – Photo Credit: Victoria Will/Invision/AP.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Thanksgiving and Martha Stewart

I have said it before; one of the traditions we eagerly adopted when we moved here is the celebration of Thanksgiving. There are no expectations of gifts or talking about God’s rebirth or an old man who prefers traveling the world to please kids rather than playing golf in Florida. To top it off, as we are not from here we have no family stuffing recipes that NEED (to be said with an angsty voice) to be served even though everyone knows it is way too dry, no fight about ‘my mom’s pie is better than yours’ shenanigans.

At our thanksgiving, we just splurge senseless with food, booze and some more food. And knowing that the whole nation is doing exactly the same thing also frees us from any sense of guilt. It feels like casual sex. Or more precisely casual orgy sex. In a 1969 Woodstock festival like setting. Wazaaaa.

This year I have been tasked with baking the desserts – which is ALWAYS bad news. Foie gras stuffing? Not a problem. A simple yoghurt cake? Drama. I don’t know how to bake. Forgetting to put the sugar or replacing sugar with salt in the mix is obviously not helping. So why on a Earth did I decide to go for Martha Stewart’s wholesome and need to be patient recipes????

It scares me to admit that perhaps deep inside, a (tiny) part of me thinks she is a blonde with straight teeth baking a freaking soufflé in a House and Garden shabby chic white kitchen. Maybe I have already started my path towards American citizenship (which by the way I genuinely contemplate)…Oh well. Thank god, my desserts will come long after people are in food coma so no one will notice that I failed to find pumpkin purée the night before Thanksgiving (surprise!!!) and replaced it with some berries coulis…

Anyway, here’s what I am thankful for this year:
I am thankful that I did not strangle my kids
I am thankful for all the people who came to stay on our couch to help us
I am thankful for DH always coming back after going out to buy some cigarettes
I am thankful for starting to see my brain cells being used for work i.e. something else than how to potty train the twins without baby L using his brother’s crap as facial mask (true story)
I am thankful for the cuddles and kisses I got this morning from my 3 monsters after getting kicked in the crotch all night by the very same monsters
Finally I am thankful for all the love I got through redlipstickmama – thanks guys !!!!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Kids thanksgiving candle holders and my ‘pumpkin’ and chocolate tiramisu

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‘Ask Away Friday’ with Vanilla Housewife

Very different post for this Friday, folks! I have been ‘dialoguing’ with the  hilarious Jhanis of Fascinations of a Vanilla Housewife for a while now.

The Vanilla Housewife

She lives in the Philippines; I live in New York.  Similar stuff crack us up so when she asked me to take part in an Ask Away Friday, I said: ‘Yeah, let’s do it, girl!

She asked me questions, I asked her questions, and now we link up. A little like Reddit ANA (Ask Me Anything). I did have a fantasy of appearing on the David Letterman Show (either as a guest or as Letterman himself) so this post might be the closest thing to a Letterman interview that I will ever get, so yeah!!!  We also decided to go for a ‘quote me something’ theme to support our answers. You can read Jhanis’ answers to my questions here.

I loved doing this with her because not only I got to know her more but I saw how supportive bloggers can be to each other! She basically wrote the ‘grab my button code’ (still makes me laugh, sorry…) for me. Thank you Jhanis, you are a rock star!

My answers to her questions are below.

1. You have a very very interesting “About Me” page, now if you were to choose a song that would best describe you as a person, what would it be and why?

Hand in my pocket by Alanis Morrisette  because every single sentence resonates with me. OK, except the one about ‘playing the piano‘ because not in a zillion years, I could play an instrument. I am tone deaf and my brain is just not wired for partition reading. I get dizzy just looking at one. Anyway, I remember when the song was first released I was 20 and I was like: ‘I want to be that girl in the song‘ and I hope that I have become her. I wished I was a wealthier version of her though..sic.

I’m broke but I’m happy
I’m poor but I’m kind
I’m short but I’m healthy, yeah
I’m high but I’m grounded
I’m sane but I’m overwhelmed
I’m lost but I’m hopeful baby
What it all comes down to
Is that everything’s gonna be fine fine fine
’cause I’ve got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving a high five

2. And because I thought your question to me “Who would you Kiss, Shag, Kill, Marry (in an alternative reality)?” is really interesting, I’m gonna ask you the same question BUT let’s pretend that you are a man. 😉

Kiss Rachel Bilson or Chloe Sevigny

Shag Gwen Stefani

Kill? I am so regretting asking you this now because I am not of the murderous type (I think). However,  if anyone raped one of my children I would get into a blind rage and go out for a kill…while hoping someone sane slaps me hard to get some sense into me.

Marry Matt Bomer from White Collar. Whether I am a man or a woman, this does not change my answer. He is perfection.

‘What you waiting
What you waiting
What you waiting
What you waiting
What you waiting for!?

Tick tock
Tick tock
Tick tock
Tick tock

Take a chance you stupid whore
Take a chance you stupid whore

Like an echo pedal, you’re repeating yourself
You know it all by heart
Why are you standing in one place?
Born to blossom, bloom to perish’ 

What you waiting For, Gwen Stefani

3. Where in the world have you been? (map your footprints across the globe).

So many countries missing …Sic

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4. I know how strongly you support gay rights. What developed this passion?

Apologies for the long answer but when I start on this issue I cannot shut up. I think my journey as a gay rights advocate started way before I even heard the word ‘gay’. It is somehow closely  tied to my stance on women’s rights. As a kid, I would feel absolutely enraged when some of my boyfriends were being bullied for showing off ‘feminine’ traits or tastes. I was like: ‘why is it a problem to act like a girl? Why is it weak or dirty to be like a girl?’

All my life I had Alpha type males  whom I considered as some of my oldest and closest friends. I thought I knew everything about them until they came out as gay. In 2000, I had my first come out confession.A very close friend took me aside during a party and said with tears in his eyes: ‘I have to tell you something, I am gay’. I asked: ‘What does it mean?’ He replied in shock: Well…I like men’ And I remember vividly saying:’ OK. And?’ Because I actually had no idea back then what ‘liking men’ would imply in the way you live your life, the way you were treated in public and in private. I just thought:’what’s the big deal with this? Why the fuck is he crying about it?’

Gradually I started to understand a little more about the issues and then,  there was a tipping point. I was walking on the street in New York with Thor on a very fun Halloween night. He got harassed by a group of men calling him ‘faggot, pussy’ and other anti-gay slur. And I snapped. BIG time. I almost started a brawl, I was violent, girl. Thank god, DH and a girlfriend pulled me out but that’s when I realized I could not be easy going about gay rights because some of the world around me surely was not. Since that night, I got a little more vocal.

Judge Garrett: In this courtroom, Mr.Miller, justice is blind to matters of race, creed, color, religion, and sexual orientation.
Joe Miller: With all due respect, your honor, we don’t live in this courtroom, do we?

Philadelphia, 1993

5. To say that I love your fashion sense is an understatement and I would love to see 3 of your most favorite look.

Thanks for the compliment! The aesthetics of my style can be borderline schizophrenic, to be honest. However, for an outfit to feel right, it needs to make me feel fierce, current, positive and be as comfortable as possible. I have never been into the romantic, ingenue, ethereal aesthetics which, considering my age now and the 3 kids in tow, is probably lucky. Anyway, here are my top 3 looks.

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True blue 2

Turkey hunting

6. One thing that you and your husband would like to do within the next 5 years.

Visit Japan. Obsessed with it. My obsession started with mangas when I was a child, then the authors (Mishima, Murakami), the food, the style, the weirdness…We MUST go there!

The other thing would be learn how to dance the Tango. Last time we tried, we really, really sucked at it so we need our bruised egos to mend first before getting back on the horse.

‘I sometimes think that people’s hearts are like deep wells. Nobody knows what’s at the bottom. All you can do is imagine by what comes floating to the surface every once in a while’.

 Kafka on the Shore, HARUKI MURAKAMI

7. What do you love about New York and what don’t you love about New York?

Before I give you my list of of love/don’t love, I need to say that coming to live here was a dream come true. I thought I knew everything about this city from the movies, TV shows and to some extent when I first arrived, everything seemed very familiar. After 4 years, I now realize that what I love the most about it is that it keeps surprising me. It keeps me on my toes. It keeps me alive.

What I don’t love about New York:

– if there is no tip, customer service is non-existent. For example, public transportation service is particularly bad. I mean, I get that you don’t have to be spoon fed like a baby when taking the subway (like you are in London for example, missing the Tube staff!!!) but trying to slash passengers on purpose by closing the train doors without warning is simply cruel.

– the way people curse or talk on their cell phones super, super loud. I am all for self-expression but I really don’t need to know about strangers ‘ sex life especially when it is not very educative and mainly mysoginistic.

– the amount of plastic surgery in the +50  female population of Upper East Side. On a scary day, you walk around and you start wondering if you have seen the same woman again and again but in different fur coats.

What I love about New York:

– you strike conversations with strangers in restaurants, in the subway, on the street that often change your views of the world or your own prejudice. I feel very privileged to get my assumptions challenged on a daily basis.

– most side streets are little peace havens away from the madness of main avenues. New York can be more quiet than you think. I like that this quietness is unexpected. You run, you yell and suddenly you turn a corner and you see cherry blossom trees and you can no longer hear anything. You look around wondering if you have stepped onto a movie set seconds after the director said ‘1,2, 3…Action’. And sometimes you actually have!

– the food: so much choice, so good. The number of restaurants by square mile is absolutely unbelievable.  A swanky restaurant serving Lao food even recently opened  in TriBeCA with lots of success. When I told my mom how much they charged for a tiny bowl of Tom Khem (Lao caramelized pork stew), she almost packed her suitcase to move here and open a Lao diner.

– the amount of rooftop bars where you feel like floating above the urban jungle while sipping a martini. They are breathtaking.

Here’s one of my favorite spots the Press Lounge

The-Press-Lounge1_thumb

– New York is way more connected to nature than people think: Hudson river esplanades, all the parks, the Highline, etc. but also easy access to sandy beaches and mountains for hiking and skiing. So it is an endless playground for the urban addicts like me and the nature freaks like DH.

– New York is like a music box; full of eclectic rhythms, beats, melodies. It’s never boring and I do believe everyone can write their own music here, even tone deaf people like me 🙂

Banksy, the elusive street artist chose the streets of New York for his one-month ‘artists residency’ and said:

“New York calls to graffiti writers like a dirty old lighthouse. We all want to prove ourselves here,”.  “I chose it for the high foot traffic and the amount of hiding places. Maybe I should be somewhere more relevant, like Beijing or Moscow, but the pizza isn’t as good.”
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/banksy-interview-with-village-voice-2013-10#ixzz2hLTOC2a8

8. What are your dreams for your children?

It is going to sound completely sappy but here’s the list:

be happy. And I think it is a very hard thing to achieve. Someone dear to my heart once said to me: ‘I am not equipped for happiness’. It was heartbreaking.

love themselves. Self-hatred is a very dangerous curse.

– and I would absolutely love the 3 of them to be really tight and supportive of each other. I would love them to have a ‘I cannot go by a week without talking to my brother and sister’ relationship. I don’t think we can really engineer this as parents but I hope that’s what is going to happen.

‘Keep it together in the family
They’re a reminder of your history
Brothers and sisters they hold the key
To your heart and your soul
Don’t forget that your family is gold’

Keep it together, Madonna

9. Tell me about a time when you really lost your cool, what did you do and what happened.

It’s weird because growing up I was losing my cool for absolutely everything and anything. I had a permanent frown on my face, I swear. Then as a young adult, I worked hard to let go of my anger. Plus I lived 11 years in London, England and it really turned me into an ‘ice cool’ chick. British composure is not a legend, it’s real, people. And now, the combination of New York’s abrasive and gutsy personality and me being a stay at home mom with 3 kids has woken up the volcano!!! The beast is back. I talked about it in a post about how I went mental during my vacation. More recently, the kids turned into tween brats and started to sulk refusing to clean up their toys.  I don’t know if it was G pretending not to hear my request, or P dragging her feet and pushing her toys with her toes very slowly to pretend she was cleaning or L doing the exact opposite of my request by emptying the toy chest…but I exploded. I started to throw some of their toys in the trash can. It felt really really good 🙂

10. This one is my favorite question each week. What’s in your bag? (Take a photo of your bag contents and no cleaning!) 😊

OK, that’s embarrassing but here it goes:

– The gadgets: Macbook Air, iPhone and headphones

– The glasses: reading glasses and sunnies

– 3 pens (?)

– 2 notepads: one for my business coach freelance job, and one for other ventures, ideas for start-ups, rambling etc. I usually have a 3rd for drawings or creative ideas. Talk about a mad head.

– a A3/A2 white paper sheet in case my ideas’ mapping does not fit on the standard notepad page. Very mad head, I am telling you…

– a pair of scissors. I am not sure why they are still in the bag but they are usually for cutting stuff from magazines. I guess, always useful for self-defense too 🙂

– The medication cabinet: anti hay fever tablets, anti-bacterial gel and paper tissues. I recently discovered that I I developed extremely uncomfortable skin rashes because of the pollen and the sun. I thought I was getting allergic to my kids because it always happened when I was taking them out all day…

– The delusion: receipts from restaurants or cafes because one day I will have a proper money management system in place. I will. And one day I will go to Shrine, a must go to music venue in Harlem. That is why I have been carrying their business card for like probably a year now.

– The beauty set: a hand mirror and a red lipstick 🙂

Anything that surprised you in this Q&A? Have a great week end, everyone!

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Mood of the day: the Frenchie

Very strange weather. Last week I was boasting about New York’s Indian Summer to all my European mates and this week is a mix bag of rain, thunderstorms and tornados alerts, Fall breeze, hot and sunny afternoons etc… As the French say, ‘c’est n’importe quoi!’ (It’s anything…and everything). So I decided to just mix Summer and Fall:

– my favorite summer jumpsuit from United Colors of Benetton. It is as comfy as pajamas. And it has helped me a lot to hide my bump in the early days of my pregnancy with L, after I gave birth to L and …now.  Yep, it is kind of the same bump, and it looks like it is here to stay, the kids even named it. They call it ‘LE BEBE’ (the baby)…

– my mint pumps from Nine West

– a scarf by Day Birger et Mikkelsen

– and my most precious item of clothing: a trench coat from Louis (Vuitton) that I literally snatched away from some skinny gal during a sample sale (back when my cousin was working for LVMH). I am not proud.

Every fashionista has read at least one article or two about French women’s (supposed) natural and effortless chic. My little brain went French woman + scarf + trench coat = BINGO. Except that how effortless chic can you really be when you can no longer freaking close the trench coat???? Oh well…

On a side note, I met up for a coffee with Lou, a childhood friend from France, who was visiting New York with her hubby. We haven’t seen each other in about 18 years and it is was shocking how easy it was to just pick up the conversation and run with it. Great feeling. It was also funny to talk to someone who knew you as a child and as a teenager but then missed your adult years because they say things like:

‘It’s hilarious because I would not have pictured you with a husband and 3 babies. You were so adamant about not getting hooked up with anyone, so independent!

-‘Back then you already seemed rather unaffected by shitty stuff that would happen around you, like floating above the crap.’

I guess I did change but not so much 🙂

French trench

French trench 2

Moonwalk

noun. A dance technique that presents the illusion of the dancer being pulled backwards while attempting to walk forward.
noun. Story of my life.

I have reached a new low as a mother. I think I entered a whole new category of craziness yesterday between 12.30am and 2am.

One of my job tasks as a stay at home mom is to ensure that DH has a decent night sleep so he can actually half function when he starts working at 7.30am. This means that as soon as the kids scream in the middle of the night or decide to take over our bed I am the canon fodder. I sing nursery rhymes or prepare a warm milk bottle to drug them back to sleep. I placate them against the floor when they start running around the living room like a bunch of wackos, a little like a SEAL officer would hold down a terrorist about to blow themselves up. Literally.

So yesterday night as G woke up a screaming L when he decided to sneak out their bedroom I had to make a decision and let G take my place in my bed …while I sat by L’s crib to pat his bum back to sleep. Yeah right. The little bastard has extra sensorial capabilities, he is like a freaking location warfare device. If you move away from his crib in the slightest, he sees, hears, feels, you are doing it even though it’s pitch black in his room and by the fifth time you are trying to go back to YOUR bed, you have stopped breathing to make no noise. To no avail, he starts screaming again. And when you come back, he stops immediately and he smiles. I actually saw it, the little bastard smiled.

So, at my 6th attempt I decided I have become a cat and slowly crawled on my bended knees softly putting one paw in front of the other, the full Cat Cow undulation (my virtual yoga teacher would have been proud). Of course then as I was about to exit, CRAAAACK !!!! I stepped on the wood floor slats that creak, fucking hell!!! Someone, kill me now, please.

I decided to give up and laid flat on my belly by L’s side. I started thinking stupid things like ‘I can see that the cleaner has been thorough with dust cleaning last Friday’, ‘Why am I more protective of G than of the other two?’, ‘How does a government shutdown really work in real life and not in a West Wing reality? ‘ , ‘Maybe I am not going to chop my hair mane after all, maybe motherhood also changed me in that I am a long hair kind of gal now’ , ‘this business idea I am working is absolutely crazy, or what?’, ‘Adrian Grenier from Entourage (spotted earlier in the day) does have really amazing eyes but he looks shorter than on TV’, bla bla bla

Eventually I heard L’s deep snore and decided to slide my whole body flat as a stingray moping the floor way from his crib. Turns out that an even distribution of body weight is preventing the floor from cracking. Point duly noted. However, not a great move when wearing ‘body shaping’ underwear because my crotch was B-U-R-N-I-NG. Cotton next time.

The worst part of all this is that I don’t think DH slept particularly well because this morning, his face looked like a truck ran over it. A garbage truck to be more precise. As for me, I act crazier than my usual self. I was taken aback by DH’s annoyed voice : ‘what are you doing?’
He was standing in front of me all suited up for work and I realized that I was pushing a milk bottle I had just prepared against his mouth…I replied:’I am not entirely sure but I think I am trying to feed you milk???’

Bonkers, absolutely bonkers.

Mood of the day: hand-me-down

I have been obsessed with secondhand clothing since I was a little girl. It started as a necessity because my folks could not afford brand new clothes for 5 kids. It then became an addiction to the endless possibilities that already worn garment offers: shapes, periods, styles etc. I remember that as a child, every now and then, Lao women would come to our place with huge black trash liners full of clothes collected at clothing banks or from some other Lao households. They would empty the contents in our living room and mothers and their children would dive into the pile of clothing.  It was like the Gold Rush, so exciting. I remember that I would eye scan the stash for the best cotton, the most inventive color combination, the softest knit, or the most subtle silky shine etc., and make a bet in my head that it was going to be the most valuable item of the whole supply. Only then I would pull out the fabric all the way out to finally discover my prize. It was usually a well cut blouse, a sharp skirt or something from a ‘real’ brand. My BS (Big Sister) would sometimes ask me: ‘how did you know?’

Later, I pursued my hunting obsession in Paris flea markets such as Porte de Montreuil or les Puces de Clignancourt. Back then, it was so dirty that after a day of sorting out through the crap I needed to take a shower. I am serious. In London, my fave stores were charity shops and they were everywhere, very organized and with their own target clientele. Oxfam had the trendier selection, but Help the Aged the best prices.

In New York, it got a little more complicated: cash shortage forced a more dilettante approach to shopping and secondhand clothing market is so broad. I still consider myself a shopping debutante here lurking in charity shops  in Chelsea, ‘vintage’ boutiques in Soho, Hell’s Kitchen flea markets and Williamsburg’s thrift shops. What confuses me the most is how expensive and well maintained previously worn clothes can be over here! Even weirder, some still have the original tags.

Anyway I found a faux leather jacket with cool trimmings in Williamsburg’s Monk thrift store. This jacket is fast becoming my fave item for Fall. P tagged along for the day with her very own hand-me-down corduroy dress found on Thredup , an online consignment store for like-new clothing. Online, people!!!! Boy, things have changed since the days of shuffling around old stuff on my parents’ living room floor…

Me: Therapy by Lane Crawford faux leather, knit dress from Nümph (always loved the geometrical shapes), Skip Hop diaper bag

P: Denim jacket from Du Pareil au Meme, OshKosh dress, bag from Claire’s and shoes from my friend Cameron’s daughter

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Outside my shell

‘The fire fades away
Most of everyday
Is full of tired excuses
But it’s too hard to say
I wish it were simple
But we give up easily
You’re close enough to see that’

KT Tunstall, Other side of the world

Friday posts are often reflective. They help me think about how I survived another week while doing the laundry, galvanize my energy levels for the restless weekend and make promises about how I was not going to lose my temper the following week. Or maybe they are not and I am just making no sense whatsoever. Anyway, today I have been thinking about reconciling me and my alter ego, my world and my other world. OK, I know this already sounds crazy and I shall forgive you if you close your tab now 🙂

People who read me have probably realized that I have kicked this oyster shell of mine once for all. They started to see redlipstickmama popping out on Instagram, Facebook pages, twitter, on some blog comments etc. It has not been an easy decision (and I am still debating it): am I going to alienate everyone? How more full of myself can I become? Are people going to start blocking me or get embarrassed when they talk to me? But I felt that I started a process that I could not (did not want to stop): a journey of full disclosure to engage with as many people as I can. As long as I stay true to myself, I will be fine, right? I fucking hope so. Anyway, the world outside my head and my WordPress therapeutic space aka my blog seems to have responded to my subliminal question: ‘Should I stay or should I go?‘. More and more people I know started to talk to me about some of my posts, with some admitting they have been lurking for a while but never mentioned it before. I seriously understand. What do you say? ‘By the way I read that post about your mom gambling and you chasing down your brothers with a knife…Your lasagna tastes fantastic, can I have some more?’. Gradually though, I am learning that I am making some laugh, some (almost) cry, others think about stuff, and some freaking relieved that they don’t have my life. And as I said it before, it is often leading to them telling me something buried inside them. I am loving that because I am writing all the crap I feel and think, my friends lower their guards too, sometimes.

The world in the blogosphere has responded too. I was asked to write my first guest post by Bonnie at the Joyful Organizer blog! It was a daunting to write for another blogger’s audience but hope you’ll like it. It is about my 8 ways to involve kids in house chores. You will probably think I am a child slaver after that. It is true, I am one. A fellow mom blogger, Kerrie at the Winding road recently gave me a WordPress Award which I think means I am part of her ‘blog family’ because of the level of engagement we have with each other. It sounds silly since we actually never met and that technically I don’t get a bronze naked guy statuette or something like that but I thought it was really nice. And then something Thor told me over the week end triggered today’s post. He asked ‘who the hell are all those people who comment on your posts??? What is this world you are in?’. I promise you, friends and relatives that we are not international spies sending each other codified national security secrets or underground kingpins…How awesome would this be if it was the case?

The reality is different. Here are some of these peeps. I am having a go at trying to describe them (apologies to all these bloggers if I completely fuck this up):

-Kerrie, mom of 2 at the Winding road. She seems very sweet and romantic. When she writes, it is very soothing. She sounds like the girl I would go to knock some senses into me when I go on about wanting to murder people.

– Ellen, at the Wanderer, one of my very early followers who inspired me to try to reach out more through her always supportive words. She also sounds like a very good listener, someone whom I would rant to about anything if we knew each other.

– B, at Journeys of the Fabulist is an inspiration. She is super funny and seems very organized (like in a thorough way not in ‘by chance’ way like me). Her posts at least are, they are very meticulous and it’s not like she is talking about walking in the park. Nope. She is freaking traveling with her kids to the Gold Coast (Australia), and now India! Can you just imagine me doing this?

– and the uber stylish Mason Bentley She/They is/are so cool it makes me cry. Everything they create, wear is something I would die for – if I had the waistline for it. Hell, I am even envisaging a quick liposuction because of that (kidding…hum).

My two worlds colliding on a Friday morning, it’s a nice feeling not to feel ashamed that I ‘talk’ to and ‘listen’ at people I have never seen. And every morning, I really ask myself, should I stop this nonsense? And every night as the kids go to bed and DH starts snoring, I am dying to write. So I guess the answer is no. I don’t really like oysters anyway.

Happy week end.