mercredi, juin 11, 2008

Reason 2,451 Why I Love Paris

I was not in a good mood this morning. It normally takes me 20 minutes by bus to get to the metro station, where I hop on Line 1 and have three stops until I get to work. This morning, though, there was more traffic than usual, so the 20 minutes turned into 45. It was hot and crowded and I couldn't open the window. I hadn't eaten breakfast because we were out of yogurt, so in addition to everything else, I was also hungry.

Hungry, hot, late & cranky.

I finally arrived, stopped to buy an apple and a croissant, and was stomping my way to the building where I work when someone tapped me on the shoulder from behind. I turned around to face a man in his late forties, a smile on his face.

'Bonjour,' he said.

'Bonjour,' I replied a little impatiently. I was already horribly late.

'May I give you a compliment?' he asked.

I love this type of gallantry times a million - asking permission to give a compliment. While you're at it, could you throw your coat over that puddle so I don't get my feet wet?

'Go right ahead,' I answered with a smile. 'It's always nice to start the day with a compliment.'

'You are simply exquisite. You have so much allure - even from far away - I noticed you immediately. You really are beautiful. I don't ask that you leave your boyfriend or husband or children, but simply put, may I see you again?'

I laughed. 'Thank you for the compliment. It's always nice to get one. But, no.'

He actually looked surprised. 'So I can't see you again?'

'No,' I said firmly but with a smile.

He looked around, a little confused, 'This is not how I pictured the scenario in my head.'

'C'est la vie,' I shrugged.

'In any case, I wish you a very good day,' he said, bowing slightly and stepping away backwards, as if he were addressing the Queen.

'And a good day to you,' I replied.

Suddenly, a day that started out frustrating and crappy turned into 'The sun is out, and I'm alluring!'

God, I love this place.

lundi, juin 02, 2008

Fifty-one square meters of Paris (and that includes the only closet)

We finally did it!

Handsome and I bought a cute two-bedroom apartment in the 18th arrondissement of Paris. It's cosy, but feels surprisingly spacious.

Each of the three main rooms have little "Juliet balconies" (thanks, Mom, for providing the correct term) where I have already imagined cute little window boxes full of plants and flowers. I am hilariously optimistic about actually managing to keep them alive.

The three main rooms also have different original crown moulding. The dining room is appropriately adorned with fruit. We have so far identified pears, apples, grapes and raspberries. Or blackberries, depending on how picky you are about their relative size to a pear. I even had to vigorously defend the apples against a devil's advocate-playing friend who insisted they were tomatoes, and that tomatoes, as fruit, had every right to be there. As if.

We took too long to decide whether to repaint the kitchen, bathroom and hallway ourselves, or call in a professional. But after getting quotes from two different painters, even black market prices were too much for us. When I told my mom the first quote, she was horrified. "That's more than I paid to repaint the entire exterior of my house!" she exclaimed. Such are the prices in Paris, apparently. So after moving in, with our boxes piled high in each room, we set about the process of painting.

I will never forget how to say 'primer' ever again. I kept getting it confused with the word for 'spackling', so when I kept suggesting we might need some before the actual layer of paint, Handsome politely dismissed it, along with the actual spackling.

But Handsome is nothing if not quick to learn, so after consulting all three different cans of paint, insistent and in agreement on the essential steps to painting, and at least five different trips to the store, he came round to idea that there was more to painting than meets the eye.

Paint Can Consensus Essential Steps to Painting:

1. Wash surface

2. Let dry

3. Fill cracks

4. Let dry

5. Sand

6. Dust

7. Apply primer

8. Let dry

9. Apply paint

10. Let dry

11. Apply second layer if necessary

We were painting over a thick high gloss paint and many, many cracks and old leaks that needed repairing. Which meant it wasn't going to be quick, or easy. Handsome was, to put it mildly, anxious to get the project over with and unpack the boxes. I became swept up in the minute details and was determined to follow the protocol from A to Z so it would be as close to perfect as possible.

These are our different takes on the Paint Can Consensus.

Me :

1. Oh goody, everything will be so clean!!

2. Look what a difference being clean makes! It's a whole other color!

3. I love these little spackling knives! I think I need more spackle on that spot. And that one too. This knife is so cool!!

4. Wow! It only takes three hours!

5. This power sander is one helluva machine! Am I glad I put those dust masks in the shopping basket when Handsome wasn't looking..... I am totally rocking this!! I am modern woman, hear me sand!! This is a really great workout for the arms....Power Plates are for sissies. Oooooo, feel how smooth I got that wall! Weeeee!!!!

6. All this dust that I created with my powerful sanding! I rock!

7. 'Primer' is 'sous-couche', 'primer' is 'sous-couche'.... It's going to look so pretty when I'm done!

8. It only takes an hour! That's fast!

9. OOOOooooo!!! 'Orange Blossom' pretty!!!! This roller and extension pole really make painting the ceiling a snap! Oops! Almost fell over backwards over the bathtub....I guess I should just turn around...Whee!!! Look at my smooth sanded ceiling!

10. It only takes an hour to dry! I can't wait to see what it looks like!!

11. A second layer would make it just about perfect......weee!!!!

Him :

1. What the fuck? We have to wash all this? Even the ceiling? Jesus Christ, this is going to take so long....

2. Can I paint yet?

3. A little gob over here....Done! Can I paint yet?

4. Three fucking hours??? I am giving it an hour, max....

5. No I don't need the dust mask. Or the safety goggles. God this is a pain in the ass. And boring. Where did you say the dust mask and safety goggles were again?

6. No fucking way.

7. I'll just go over everything real quickly and then in an HOUR, MAX, I am painting this shit once and for all.

8. Is it dry yet? Can I paint now?

9. God, finally! Meh, looks okay, but it's DONE!

10. Done, done, done. In thirty minutes, I'm unpacking the boxes and the shit is going in its place and off the floor and out of the way ohmygod I can't it dry yet?

11. You have got to be fucking kidding me. NO. And we don't have any more paint. Thank GOD.

No tears were shed and nobody had a paint bucket hurled at them in the process. But I think it just might have inspired me to try more - gasp - projects. (Hi, Mom! Hi, Sis!)

Who woulda thought?