Shit that Lao people (or at least my folks) like to say

I have dropped some breadcrumbs, post after post, about how crazy my extended family is and how their madness may very likely be connected to the fact that they are Lao. I am aware that it is a racist statement but still…I let you be the judge after you finish reading this post.¬†Also everything written here is actually 100% true and if people do recognize themselves, well it is exactly how you sound. I still love you. Most times ūüôā

On the topic of your physical appearance

‘Her husband is so handsome; you should see him grand ma. She is meh but he is GORGEOUS.’ Because it is deemed important to assess whom outta of a couple got the better end of the bargain when it comes to the beauty department. And by the way, you are not supposed to get offended because it is the TRUTH.

So yeah, they tell it like it is. The other day, my dad was staring at a friend of mine who very likely leans towards the democratic vote ( he is Canadian after all). After some intense staring, he had an epiphany and proudly stated: ‘Ha!!! I know who you look like! George W Bush!!!’
Fits of embarrassing laughter ensued; and my friend’s wife tried to save the day: ‘maybe a mix of Bush and Clinton ?’ to no avail…¬†My dad cooly replied serious like a stone: ‘No, just Bush. In fact, he looks like Bush father and son, both of them.’
Most embarrassing/WTF moment since my dad did the duck dance with my mother in law at my wedding.

But all this is nothing compared to Lao women’s obsession with other women’s weight. Typically, things start like below.

‘Wow. You have gained so much weight I did not recognize you.’

The conversation usually then unfolds in 2 possible ways:

Option 1: you are trying to explain.

– ‘I did have 3 kids’.

– ‘So did I but look at me, still the same face and body. ‘

To which your evil bitchy self is dying to reply: ‘Yes you are lucky. Getting knocked up at 18 ¬†by the local suburbian boy does indeed make wonder in terms of getting your pre pregnancy weight back. When you are in your late 30s (like me), have travelled and tasted amazing world cuisine…well yeah pounds are a bitch to drop. It’s true but who can resist a NY steak right?’

But in reality you are shamefully¬†replying: ‘Yes, you are SO lucky. Hmm, where’s the bar?’ And are thinking: ‘See you in 20 years. Bitch.’

Option 2: you stand on your ground.

‘No, I actually lost 4 pounds.’

To which they stop talking and start pinching and pulling (key word here) your double chin while grinning up to their ears.

You can NEVER win. Seriously.

On the topic of sibling rivalry

‘Ha, I see…that’s the ugly one. Where is the pretty one?’. Always indeed useful to quickly identify who is whom in a pack of mutts.

‘She is a good student but you should check out her sister’s test scores. Much better.’¬†Just in case your sister did not already ¬†hate your guts.

He is the grand father’s favorite grand child; he does not like the others much. I, for myself, struggle with my son’s temperament; my younger daughter is the one I prefer’.¬†

All these being part of a fairly typical casual chat with friends as THE kids themselves are trying to eat (and fail to digest) their Pho Bo.

It is so bad that when a few months ago I read in the New York Times and Le Monde different articles addressing the modern times taboo of the ‘favorite’ child I was at loss. What taboo?

On the topic of gender equality and general marital advice

Of course she was going to leave him. It’s because she has a higher degree; that’s not how it works. To make it work, men must have higher education than their wives.’¬†No.It is not taken from a Mad Men script. I swear.

Another time, my grand ma told me over the phone that she had been hearing rumors about my temper and that I was being too tough on my husband (???) and that I should really be more lenient and understanding (god knows about what). I wondered if my brother gets the same type of call. Hmmm. Very unlikely if I believe the wedding good wishes DH and I got at our very own Soukhouane ceremony. The soukhouane is a ceremony that calls upon your spirits/energy so that they¬†are tied back to you and you can be in your prime in different key moments of your life (birth, move, accidents, marriage, death etc.). It is beautiful and emotional. The ceremony is then followed by your family and friends wishing you well tying threads of cotton around your wrists. As grannies (‘meh tao’) ,wished me good health and financial prosperity they wished/implored DH to be faithful to me and never take a ‘second wife’ also more commonly called in western cultures ‘mistress’ or ‘lover’. The poor guy had no benefit of the doubt.

It gets worse.

My very own first cousin whom I was meeting for the first time asked : ‘Are you saying that of his own free will your husband will not come with me and check out escort girls?

‘What about you ask him?’

Cousin actually asked DH using me as the translator. Not awkward at all. DH at that point was scared of saying anything really and wondered what kind of sick games we were playing and what kind of weapons I was hiding in my purse.

Cousin concluded:‘yeah, it is not possible. It’s because you are standing here.’ ¬†What???

On the topic of  the LGBT community

To start with, I shall say that my family is relatively very open minded about gays and lesbians (and I love them for that!) but they also have the weirdest way to express their support and acceptance. They have come a long way though.

First step was denial.

My first gay centric conversation with my folks went like this.

‘Mom, where is your cousin staying?’

‘At a friend’s.’

‘You mean at his boyfriend’s

‘No, how dare you? It’s his friend’.

‘He’s gay, mom.’

‘Who said this?’

‘He did. And you saw his gay porn collection all over his bedroom’.

‘Hmmmm (frozen face, red face )…i don’t think I did (and Asian stoic face). ‘

I was probably as confused as¬†my gay childhood friend who came out to his parents in his early 20s…

Your friend is nice.’

‘He is my boyfriend.’

‘It will be lovely when I meet your girlfriend.’

‘Mom, he is my BOYfriend.’

‘I hope you decide to have children and…’

Intervention by the father: ‘Mama your son is trying to tell you that he likes boys’.

The mom: ‘Your kids will look pretty’.

Second step was curiosity.

So, ok I understand that they are in love and live together so now can you tell me who is the wife and who is the husband?’

‘Pop, that is not how it works!’

‘What do you mean? What’s the point if there is no wife and no husband?’

I still haven’t gathered the courage to ask further what my dad meant by that; scared shitless that he was being ‘graphic’ about it…oh dear…

Third step was full on support and approval ūüôā

Three years ago, I overheard my mom tell her friends:

‘My daughter only has gay friends. She has been like this since she was a child. Gays tend to come to her. It makes sense though: they are gorgeous, very cultured, very funny, have good manners. Do you remember Archibald from her wedding? Yes he is one of ‘them’. I am telling you; they have it all. Her friends look like men too, you know. You would not have guessed. Yes, hell I do want them as friends too. I have to admit it; I do have gay friends too..’

There are so many wrong things in that last paragraph that I cannot even start breaking it down. But it does not change the fact that at the core of it is tolerance and love… or least a damn good attempt at it. And on days when news around the world about hatred and fear of each other just depress me, I do take some comfort in thinking that my folks are trying. Their own way. With some kind of twisted love. It can make you and break you. But they do try.

Lao readers, what is your most ‘what the fuck?’ moment triggered by a fellow Lao? Non Lao readers, what is your most ‘what the fuck’ moment triggered by a¬†countryman/woman?¬†

Wedding soukhouane

Wedding soukhouane

Mood of the day: Pitch That

Today is a big day because it is the first day that I will be sharing details of Another Garde, the fashion startup I have been working on since February to a friend/business brain/potential investor. It’s scary because I want her to be ruthless and tell me in the face if this whole business concept sucks. It feels a little like introducing G to his new teacher in September and say: ‘do you think he’ll handle structure and discipline well? Hmm…’ A little like giving someone a stick to beat you with. Basically.

Anyway there is a word for what I am doing today: pitching. In the 11 years, I lived in London I probably used the word ‘pitch’ only to order beer but New York is like Pitch Land! I seem to use it all the time:

Baseball pitcher: potentially the most revered sportsman in America

High pitch voices: that’s basically the sound of New York on Sunday brunch time, in shops, on a train to Long Beach etc. An odd sound mix of a pack of barking mutts and a 13 year old teenager having his first orgasm again…and again…again. Yeah. That bad.

Elevator pitch; in here you don’t introduce yourself, you pitch yourself. New Yorkers are pro networkers and have little time so you basically have 30 secs minute to make an impression. In fact, when I was looking for a job, Archibald/the worst job search coach ever used to say: you have 10 words to explain who you are, what you want and how I can help you so go ahead…after 1 minute of my rambling he would snore right in my face. Ass.

Anyway, here’s my Pitch Outfit – I figure that if I bleed from stress it will look nice on white ūüôā like O-ren on Kill Bill.

Elizabeth & James blazer, knit top from Joe Fresh, loungewear from H&M, black hide leather sandals from MIA and DH’s $20 aviator shades.

Final thought:
Let’s make this a home run people!!!

Disclaimer: This is not a public solicitation or offer to fund my business.

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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:

РNo flying РCHECK. 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 arr√™ter 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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Mood of the day: Uniform

I am deemed to have more business related meetings and it is thus time to start getting some ‘go-to’ pieces. The problem is that I have no idea of what ‘go to’ pieces mean these days considering that a-I am reinventing my professional life for the 5th time in 15 years and b-I have been in maternity clothing for like 4 years or so. In my last iteration, I used to meet with brainy ‘let’s start a social revolution’ researchers and activists and now I am meeting with ‘let’s make the world rad and beautiful’ creatives and designers. The problem is obvious here. On top of it, my version of shopping in the last 4 years has been basically: second hand and ‘oh GAP is doing a 40% discount on their basics!!! Awesome…’

Since I also have no cash for thousand buys (the plot is thickening, not…), I thus decided to – for the first time of my life – adopt a uniform. However, there is a limit to me wearing my hubby’s¬†tight shirts and the limit is now, like right now. I do dig the androgynous look but in reality I mostly look like a confused extra from the 80s Working Girl movie. Not Good. So here I am investing in a few pieces that I will wear at EVERY meeting. This in itself will be a huge challenge for the fickle me.

First stop: the polyvalent top. Something I can wear with shorties, pencil skirts, skinny jeans, Harem pants etc. Wear it casual or more formal etc. I do have a head start with my business partner being a fashion designer/creative director with kick ass taste so she is taking to places I had no idea existed: Assembly New York¬†and¬†Maryam Nassir Zadeh. They are places where I swear if I stayed long enough and closed my eyes hard enough, I would turn into a freaking dove. A Black Dove to be more precise – got to keep my quirkiness ūüôā

GBP (Gorgeous Business Partner) is showing me some stuff including a beautiful tunique insisting: ‘TRY IT ON’ and I tell her: ‘Jeez, you have no idea how short I am, right?’¬†. I kind of comply to make a point. And I do look like an Asian Frodo in Gandalf’s robe; she quips¬†‘Oh’ and I say ‘Yep’.

OK let’s pause a moment because I need to describe my fabulous GBP. She is an almost 6ft tall kind Amazonian like creature whom men and women of any sexual orientation fawn over. I am not exaggerating; I have witnessed it over and over again. Gosh, I sometimes find myself staring at her piercing blue eyes. Think red-haired, edgier, warmer Uma Thurman. Yeah, can you imagine me walking next to her on the street??? Sometimes I do chuckle when we meet at a cafe and she asks: ‘What’s happening?’ I reply:’Nothing’ but really, I am thinking:‘Thank God, I feel no freaking self-hate because else I would take this bread knife now and seriously try to stab my self or cut my hair with it…’¬†

Anyway, we eventually found IT (thanks GBP!!!). Below: an Assembly navy top, Theory navy shorties, Bonds tank top, Warby Parker sunnies. Note: I can close all the buttons of the top and I look like a No BS, I am in charge business woman mouaaa LOVE. Please do note I now have my own photographer in the form of DH; yet another plus of him being on a garden leave ūüôā Also, I have to share with you my laptop pocket (a recycled gift bag P got for her birthday from my friend Louise) because whatever iterations of me there are in the future, one will stay: Mama.

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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

 

 

 

The day when… OR Blimey, because my life needs more excitment…

A man in a suit carrying a blue folder under his arm at 11am is a pretty banal sight in Corporate New York. When the man in a suit carrying a blue folder at 11am is not at work but is standing in your living room and is your red-faced DH, you know that your life may have just been turned upside down.

Note: a post I was supposed to write and share 2 weeks ago but only found the right words now.

Things were starting to settle down nicely. My MIL (mother in law) was packing to go home after having spent almost 3 weeks slaving for us and allowing me to make a much needed push in my entrepreneurial adventure. I was on a kick ass routine:morning laundry/work/caring for L in the afternoon/grocery shopping/diner/kids’ bed routine/work.

G and P are to start pre-K3 in September and are actually excited about it. L…is still an irrational vampire wrestler baby who still refuses to say words but he he IS cute so I just let it fly. I think I even muttered last Sunday: ‘I got this, things are going to roll from now on.’ Stupid Mama!! I really should have known better.

I don’t even know how to say this so I am going to say it as quickly as a damn dirty rap chorus: ‘DH, my man, freaking lost his job. Yo! Job, job, no no more. Yo! Peace Off’

Shit happens but usually not to him. He is almost 40 and has all his hair, eats like a pig but still is in some kind of shape. Yep, shit does not happen to him. I am usually the one that gets shit all over, all the time.  Anyway, In 20 years, he never has been laid off. Since 2008, he probably survived 10 or more RIFs (Reduction In Force or Rest In Filth). Many, many times we laughed about the day when he would be summoned into a room to listen to the Whys and the Sorrys and would not be allowed to go back to his desk before taking the exit door.

Turns out he was allowed to go back to his desk to (briefly) say his Adieu! but he refused to. Strangely.

Turns out I did not laugh either when I saw him. I did smile a bit because I do smile in most random situations. For example, I do not smile on pictures but I smile when looking at vegetables like Fenugreek. I am like ‘what a weird looking veggie. All vegetables must make fun¬†of it, poor Fenugreek’. Yeah I do have random smiles so of course I would smile on the day we find ourselves raising 3 tots with no salary in Harlem, New York. So I smiled but then a few hours later at our local supermarket, I looked at green beans and my eyes started to get wet. Fuck. I used to love shopping for vegetables. And now it was like:

Oh an avocado – but what are we going to do?
Oh a tomato- I am going to have to let our beloved nanny go!’¬† Bla bla bla and Fuck.

It is the weirdest situation ever because what is really hard at the moment is not the threat of having to soon live on ramen noodles (which for my kids would be interpreted as ‘yeah our old folks must have won the lottery because it is party time every day!!! No more fucking organic red meat’). ¬†The most difficult thing so far has been to figure out who does what in the house. DH is now helping to look after L so every day is like a negotiation:

Him: ‘What are your plans tomorrow?
Me: Can you watch him from 1pm til 3pm and then I’ll take over? No, Ok until 2.45pm?
Me: What do you mean you need 1 hour on your mini I-Pad? 
Him: Oh, that’s where you usually work?¬†
Him: Is that really how much we spend in childcare?
Me: Are we having lunch together or not?
Me: Why the fuck were you late for our lunch?
Him: You said you would be back at 5.30pm…it s like 6pm!!!!
Me: I don’t think we should have lunch together anymore. Like ever.’

We’ll figure it out eventually. We always do, I suppose. Until then we’ll text each other shit like this: ‘What do you mean you are not with L? I thought that was your day? Oopsie…’

Meanwhile, the kids are ecstatic to have their dad home. They just can’t believe their luck and want to spend every second of their lives with him leaving the nanny and I watching the ‘massacre’ from the sidelines. ¬†So before I start stocking instant noodles from Chinatown in my kitchen or research how much the average rent in Washington Heights is, I am going to try and enjoy the following blessings:
– the kids having a blast because Daddy is home and he has always been the coolest ‘service staff member’
– DH seemingly increasingly blown away by Yours Truly and asking every hour ‘Ma Cherie, how do you do it? How do you actually achieve stuff’

So yeah DH has no paid job for now but I’ll take a smitten man any day mouaaaa

Below some great pics from the talented Helene McGuire who unbeknownst to her made my tough week much lighter

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Love letter to New York #2: Central Park

For the second installment of my New York series, I chose our ‘garden’. I have tried to write¬†how I feel about Central Park but I truly lack the words and the prose. The thing with Central Park is that I thought I knew everything about it¬†because of my addiction to Sex and the City reruns: the horses, the bridges, the rocks, the ponds, the hot dog carts, the cartoonists drawing your portrait while smoking a fag, the bike renters following you until you rent a bike…

I was SO wrong. The truth is, all this stuff is just the pretty and funny veneer. Other words that non New Yorkers may not connect to Central Park include:
Shakespeare’s Garden
Woodlands
Streams
The Great Hill
Skateboarders in the summer
Snowboarders in the winter
Reservoir
Swedish Puppet Theatre
Petting zoo
Rollers disco
Acrobats training
Lesbians conventions
Sprinklers

Central Park has many twists and shades. It moves, dances, it is like a human being. This is the only way I can explain how¬†a park can still surprise the urban ‘I hate trees’ girl I am. After all these years, I still stop in my tracks asking myself:¬†‘how come I have never seen this rose garden before?‘ in the Summer, or ‘have the trees always been that red?‘ in the Fall, or ‘Did the ice make that pond bigger than it usually is?’ in the cold Winter.

I have too many memories to share all of them but I will give you one of my first and one of my last:
Р Thor, Archibald, DH and I packed a picnic in 2 seconds after a sudden thunderstorm interrupted a classical music concert and fled the park alongside a thousand New Yorkers and their thousand colorful umbrellas. Of course we were the only morons without an umbrella. Very dramatic, Very convivial, Very New York.

– my heart dropped because we had just lost G (again) in the Park. We called out his name to no avail and I kept thinking: ‘it is Central Park, nothing bad can happen here. It is Central Park, it is your haven, nothing bad can happen here’. And yes, he eventually came back appearing behind hundreds of tulips. Safe. 30 minutes later,¬†it was pouring down with rain and we fled the park with 3 tots in tow and NO umbrella…again. Almost got run over by a stroller. Very Over the Top, Very New York.

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A day in the life: Greenpoint, Blackmail and Dexter

Note: I have been MIA for almost 3 weeks and have a lot of catching up to do!!! Looking forward to reading some of my fave bloggers. You know who you are ūüôā

7.00am The Screw Up
The day started by a sobering realization: I gave our nanny her Friday off so she could have family time with her young kids. But DH was not working and I had to work…I gently warmed DH to the idea of having to mind the kids on his own. I started to say things like:¬†‘I have the meeting during the kids’ nap;¬†it should be quick and nice’.

‘Where’s your meeting?’
In Brooklyn…’
He raised his eyebrow it is just the second largest borough in New York so I vaguely say: ‘I think it is somewhere in Greenpoint’.

I.e. 3 transfers, 3 boroughs Manhattan – Queens- Brooklyn = there is not a fucking chance that I will be back before the kids wake up from their naps. I am now trying to hide the IPad so that DH does not check Google Maps.

8.00am The Breakfast
We get ready to eat and of course I forgot to buy Nespresso refills, sliced bread, jam,…basically I had shopping amnesia. Facing me, I have an understanding silent DH who starts mumbling in his head (oh yeah DH, I can hear you we are practically twins…) and three tots who do¬†now pretend to be starving. I mean they were perfectly content poking each other’s eyes a la Kill Bill for a stupid toy pocket light that is (seriously) the size of a quarter coin. Morons.

This until they heard the ‘we have no food, we have no coffee’ line.¬†It was just what they needed to start shaking the kitchen gate and scream ‘Moooooom, I am hungryyyyyy!!!!‘Terrorists.

So I dash to our local hipster coffee place the Double Dutch looking like and smelling SHITE, in my PJs and see on my way some neighbors with their 2 young kids all dressed up (obviously smelling nice shampoo) strolling away to enjoy the sunny day. I am a fecking failure ūüôā

8.45am The ‘I am choosing my battle’
I get the kiddos ready and decide to skip our usual tooth brushing routine that sounds like this:
Me: Please open your mouth so I can brush your teeth
Them: No!!!!
Me: C’mon or your teeth will be broken like Mama’s and I don’t have money to get then fixed. Note: I really don’t.
Them clinching their teeth: No!!!
Me: C’mon!!! Forcing the toothbrush in their mouth seconds before getting whacked¬†in the head by an hysterical tot.

So yeah, I have no time for this crap. Not today.

10.30am The Me Time

DH takes the 3 musketeers to the building common yard to play with their scooters.¬†I finally have my coffee and start cooking the kids’ lunch because the deal was:

I’ll watch the monsters but you feed them. If you leave before, they won’t eat’¬†This blackmail works EVERY time.

That is the main difference between DH and I: food. He is of the school ‘you play with your food, you don’t eat. You complain about your food, you don’t eat.’ I am more like ‘OK I’ ll hunt you down with a spoon until you eat’. That is my Lao fiber, that pathological need to feed people.

11.30am The Rat Race

I am still not showered and running after my kids riding their scooters with a spoon of chicken pasta. My Lao grandma would be proud. Meanwhile DH is rubbing his forehead; he is probably thinking that this day cannot finish soon enough. Of course, the kids refuse to eat. DH is happy to eat the leftovers; the man is depressed.

12.30pm Finally

I am out of the house (showered) and I stop feeling guilty. I am even excited by the idea of doing a transfer in Queens. I am pathetic.

3.45pm Rad Greenpoint

My meeting is finally done, I met with 2 beautiful and bright women entrepreneurs. I am fully energized. It occurs to me that people in Greenpoint are hip in the right kind of way: ¬†they are super friendly, talk slow and smile like a LOT. I also learn a new word: ‘rad’. ¬†I think it means ‘awesome’, ‘cool’, ‘out of your mind amazing’. Everyone is Brooklyn seems to say ‘rad this’, ‘rad that’. Somehow I don’t think I can pull it off. My skinny jeans are not skinny enough.

4.15pm The Psychopath

As I am on the train, I am checking out what the guy next to me is reading but cannot find out because the guy¬†is actually Michael C. Hall with a sports cap on. I have been obsessed with Dexter for a longtime and still think that Season 4 with John Lithgow is one of the best things I have ever seen on TV. So I remain speechless feeling both giddy and scared shitless. Michael C. Hall was so good as Dexter that as I am sitting next to him, I am catching myself looking around to see if we are alone in the train carriage…I freak out. For real. ¬†I am teleported to Miami and am wondering if I am going to be the next Dexter victim…

4.45pm The Bouncy Castle

I get home and the kids are about to go ballistic inside the bouncy castle that DH is now setting up in our living room…Where’s the beer?

5.15 pm The Playground

I hate playgrounds. I always end up bickering with 4 year olds and always seem to be searching for one of my kids. Too much stress; so I dial my friend Emma: ‘Fancy a Harlem tavern with all our 5 kids?’ and I am counting the minutes.

6.00pm The Tavern

aka the place where kids eat chips and listen to Jazz while their parents get plastered with beers and mimosas. It has a very high ratio of staff and usually half of them likes children so B-I-N-G-O,  they will always stop your kids in time before they stab themselves with a knife. Awesome for outnumbered parents.

10.00pm The Bedtime

Somehow we bought wine and ended up at Emma’s and while the 5 kids watch something on the TV…the 4 parents kept sipping wine. Eventually every set of parents has to deal with their responsibilities. Denial is coming to an end: it is passed bedtime and one way or the other you have to clean them and put them to bed. As the kids are yawning under their blankets, for a second I am thinking: ‘What an ass I have been, they should have been in bed hours ago..‘ But my thoughts are interrupted by P.:

-‘Mom, why could I not stay at my girlfriends E. and M’s?

– Well you are only 3, a little too young…

-OK, when I am older, buy me a phone and I will call my girlfriends and I will stay at their place even after it gets dark. I am not scared, you know’

I smile. The apple did not fall from the tree. Atta girl.

 

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Mood of the day: oh Boy!

I feel like I am dropping the ball a lot these days. I am sprinting in thousands of direction without knowing if I am ever going to cross ‘The’ let alone a line. Future will tell.

I have reached out recently to many old girlfriends from my London era whom I haven’t talked to in a long, long time for a project I am working on. And Oh boy, it felt good and rather emotional. Thank god for skype: I saw tired but happy women, excited new moms, serene matriarchs, beauty all around.

This whole experience made me jump back to a time and a style I used to sport on a regular basis pre mommy’s curves: the cheap Tomboy.

So, this morning I felt like wearing:
– a plaid shirt with gold studs embellishment, found for $20 in my new digging haven The beacon’s closet, a vintage/sell/exchange clothing shop by the famous Parsons Fashion School meaning that the choice is probably more adventurous than in traditional vintage stores, yeah!!!
– Old Navy boyfriend jeans I recently bought because I needed more jeans but I cannot fathom spending too much on this body that can’t be my final iteration right??? Hmmm ,I am going to have to come to terms about these new curves….perhaps…eventually.
– a stolen battered leather men’s belt previously owned by a then skinny jock stud college boyfriend, now a buff stud daddy aka DH. Somehow, I feel I am going to regret saying to the world that I am wearing my husband’s belt…Women wearing their men’ s shirts = sexy, women wearing their men’s belts = ????!!!! Yeah let’s move on for now to the next accessory
– Converse sneakers (bought 10 years ago near Tottenham Court Road in London)
– and a pair of Marc by Marc Jacobs wayfarer sunnies borrowed from little sis

London ladies, this is a shout for you: I love you, you are an inspiration! And it’s finally fucking SPRING in New York City so I am going to enjoyit ¬†until it gets blazing hot and the deafening sound of AC units around the City gives me a pounding headache …in about 2 weeks time.

On a total random note: I dated a very handsome dude way back, who was kind of an ass to me, while being on a break with DB (Dear Boyfriend, young DH). By coincidence I saw how he looks now,20 years later, and DH is way hotter. It is bad but I felt quite smug about it ūüôā Shush don’t tell anyone…

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Letter to 10 year-old redlipstickgirl

Here’s the second installment of my ‘Letter to redlipstickgirl’ series (you can read the first letter here) which is me talking to my younger self. A tad indulgent, I know but so much fun to revisit my childhood memories. This post was triggered by my daughter, P.

P has a bag for her ‘stuff’. Her stuff is things she takes everywhere and preciously keeps away from her thief brothers. She puts her bag by her bed when she goes to sleep, hangs it on the bathroom’s door knob when when she goes for a pee, or hides it under the stroller when out and about. I do empathize with her pathological need to have her very own possessions. You get like this when you have close in age siblings. I myself still get irrationally territorial with things like hair and shoes. I don’t like it when my sisters cut their hair short because it is my thing; I am the one with the short crop and with the sole right to look like a Thai ladyboy when not wearing any makeup. And I don’t like to lend my shoes; my bras, panties, jeans are all green lighted items but my shoes are a NO-NO. Luckily for me I have big feet for my height which not only allows me to keep my balance when tipsy but also prevents sisters who shop in the children shoe section from¬†borrowing my leather boots.

Anyway, the contents of P’s bag vary with some regulars like lip balms. But mainly her stuff according to her is divided into things she needs now and things she keeps for when she is older (‘pour quand je serai grande’).¬†I do oversee what is in her ‘Older P’ bag partly because I am worried about what message I convey to her about women and partly because I don’t trust her to wait to consume… I¬† thus said yes to candies and perfume but said No to red lipstick and chewing gums.¬†I wonder whether I have the right attitude about all this and should instead let her construct her own views of her adult self. One thing I know is that I would like to say less often things like ‘You’ll have this or be allowed to do that when you grow up’. The more I have been saying it and the less this actually makes sense. I am still pondering about why it feels off and will resume this train of thoughts in a later post.

Meanwhile P’s bag inspired me to write this letter about the things I cherished.

Dear redlipstickgirl,

you got very upset last Christmas when a mistake in the Christmas catalogue order landed you with not a Chrystal Barbie doll but a pink bathtub. You are pissed off that your parents would not buy a doll to make up for their mistake. They say that you have used up your Christmas gift allowance. You are embarrassed when the school organizes ‘bring your Christmas gift’ play sessions. Your classmates all ‘mate with each other’ through their brand new Kens and Barbies. And you are standing there like an idiot with your stupid pink bathtub and no doll¬†wants to take a bath. At least you have something to show off unlike your classmate S. who doesn’t have shit because her folks did not celebrate Christmas. You then get mad at your teacher; this post Christmas play session is such a moronic idea.

Well, young lady, let me tell you that the bathtub story will make many people laugh to tears during dinner parties in your adulthood. You will keep laughing about it, in fact. I have forgotten all the dolls I ever had but never forgot the bathtub that I have kept for many years to come. Because eventually Barbies do need a bath. Always.¬†Besides you will use ¬†one day the metaphor of the bathtub to define yourself and write: ‘Like a Mattel bathtub, I am not the shiniest toy in town but I am reliable, sturdy and I matter’.¬†Hope this can be a consolation to you.

Another thing that you are treasuring but will keep it a secret is your illustrated dictionary for children. You often have it by your side. Your dad is proud; he tells everyone that you are a smart one and that the only things that interest you are books. You do like words but I know the main reason you like your dictionary is how polyvalent it is. It can be a bed, a minivan, a screen for your Barbie doll (that you will end up having the year after the bathtub fiasco) to change clothes etc. The pages illustrating different landscapes or rooms in a house are limitless decor sets for your Barbie. It only costs $3 and can be easily stored on your desk.

You have no idea how your dictionary is inspiring to me these days when I start wondering if I should buy any toys for my kids. See, I almost never buy them anything because they get pretty spoiled by other people. Sometimes I feel a tad guilty about it but remembering you play pretend to fry eggs in front of page 54 (aka the page on the kitchen appliances and utensils) helps me hold a firm stance on this.

There is also this other thing that you stole from a mall during your ‘I am such a rebel little thing’ period: a box of colored plastic elastic bands. You don’t even know why you stole it: for the trill, because you liked the colors, because it was so unneeded that you really had to have it. Not sure but it became your ¬†the reminder that you could be a badass delinquent from La Banlieue but chose not to. The truth is that a month after your elastic bands theft, you will get caught by security guards trying to steal oversized bras and baby socks… ¬†This episode will cure your kleptomania for life. Yep, the security guards will hardly have the time to scold you because they will have to reanimate your mom with salts. She will faint and drop on the floor like a dead fly. She will not believe her own eyes that her goody two-shoes girl is a thief…Yep treasure your cheap elastic bands because they are the last thing you will ever steal.

Love,

Redlipstickmama

NB: you will actually steal something else in your 20s: beer glasses from English pubs. Not very classy. If you can try to control yourself, it would be nice. They are really a pain in the ass to pack and move from a city to another.

P and her bag

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