Monday, April 14, 2014

Good thing we got rental insurance when we did because now there is a leak somewhere between the ceiling of our entryway, and the floor of the apartment above ours.

Fucking sad trombone.

Our landlady is aware of the leak (she came over for apéro last week to collect the rent and immediately looked up.) Even still, I had to call the insurance company today to find out what the procedure is for making an official declaration and getting a repair underway before the damage gets worse. And it will require me to go upstairs to talk to the neighbor whom I've never met.

“Hi, I'm your new neighbor downstairs and there’s a terrible stain forming on our ceiling that we think is due to a leak in your apartment. Nice to meet you!”

Sidebar: TA and I have been plagued by leaks since we bought our condo in New Haven. Not only does the condo STILL HAVE A LEAK (which the association has never fixed and which our tenant will not shut up about,) but our apartment in Brooklyn had two. And now this. Grrrrr…

Now begins our adventure in French insurance claims and repairs. Yay! Ok, not yay at all. I mean, we’re going to have to learn about this stuff at some point since we plan on being here for a while, but I was sort of hoping we could live in blissful ignorance for at least a year or two until we bought our own dump, you know?

And this was supposed to be the week that I investigated becoming an official, tax-paying and benefits-getting freelancer here! That is going to have to wait until the water damage gets resolved because my feeble brain can only handle one red-tape-loving potential disaster situation at a time.

And tomorrow is tax day in the US.

April is the cruellest month…

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

We’ve been in our new place a month. It definitely feels like it’s ours, although it’s far from being ready to present to the world. I’ve shared some images on Instagram, but they are highly highly curated given that we are still surrounded by boxes, have neither table nor chairs, and are still trying to rid the floor of cat smell.

We still need to scrub the walls, paint and come up with a solution for bringing some sheen and moisture to the hardwood floors, strategize bathroom storage and hall storage situations, figure out why the ceiling in the entryway has a brand new water damage-type stain… An adventure.

We have a giant list of things we need to do and buy, and every weekend we try to knock a few things off. Last weekend, we went to the puces de Vanves looking for andirons, and we found a ton of really good ones. Naturally the ones I liked best were the most expensive (the guy was clearly a dealer, and gave me an entire lecture on Haussmannian fireplaces which I super appreciated) but what we ultimately settled on, I am genuinely crazy about. They are cast-iron sphinxes and they look smashing.

Of course the weather is far too warm for fires, so it will be quite a few months before we take the andirons for a test drive. However, they ornament the fireplaces and candles we’ve got in there.

Repairs: TA has not only fixed the toilet, he’s fixed the sink in the kitchen, and the drain in the shower. He hasn’t had a lot of time to devote to home projects because he’s been enrolled in a government-mandated French class for the past two months (14 hours a week,) but his session ended last week and he’ll soon have more open slots in his schedule.

Monday, March 10, 2014

We’ve been in our new place a week, and it’s finally starting to feel a) real and b) like it’s ours. It was rough going at first.

The night before our move-in, we showed up at the apartment to get the keys, only to discover the tenant still had a bunch of his stuff, as well as his cat, in the place. The stuff was super annoying, but it was the cat that was the problem (or rather the way the tenant was taking care of it.) It was clear from the smell of the apartment, and the condition of the cat’s litter box and food bowl, that he’d been left alone there for a few days and was none too happy about it. The cat was running around completely freaked out. By the time we left the place, the cat had silently vomited his displeasure in the middle of the darkened salon.

The landlady was a bit stern with the tenant, especially about all of the crap still remaining in the kitchen. We grabbed the keys, and took ourselves out to dinner. This was supposed to be a happy occasion, but it instead turned into me, super calm, explaining to TA that everything was going to be fine and that he just had to trust me. He was >this< close to buying a 1-way ticket back to NYC, I am not kidding. On top of freaking out, TA was experiencing some kind of PTSD from when his father died his strange cat-pee drenched hoarder’s death surrounded by a tribe of strange hippie drunks…

So… ugly.

But! The yoga worked its magic! I was super zen and shit, talking TA down off the ledge, reassuring him that things were going to be fine. It’s not like I was psyched that the tenant was a slob, hadn’t had a cleaning person come by (like he’s promised,) hadn’t had the toilet fixed (like he’d promised,) but I could see the future, and it was a future of nicely-proportioned rooms, sunlight glinting off of Paris rooftops, snuggles by the fireplace…

The next day, TA opened the front door to our new apartment to THE CAT WHO WAS STILL THERE, still super panicky, plying his dark arts with bodily fluids in revenge for his owner’s abandonment. And the tenant had not cleared out all of his stuff! We managed a quick swab of the salon to make space for our boxes, and by the time our movers had arrived, the old tenant was gumming up the works by getting in the movers’ way… In the end, it was pretty comical.

Monday, February 24, 2014

We relocate on Saturday.

Movers have been called (and a deposit has been put down,) the electricity company has been given our bank info, the high-speed internet people are supposed to come out the following Monday to hook us up, we’ve been window-shopping on Ebay… so, progress.

In between, I’ve been working a ton, scheduling doctor’s appointments, neglecting my hair, not doing enough yoga. On the upside, I mailed the tax worksheets to our accountant (ahead of the deadline I’d given us,) my French client finally paid me, and it’s looking like we’re going to Brooklyn in April.

So much stuff is happening all the time, it’s impossible to keep it straight. My calendar’s pages are covered in scribbles, lists, project hours, drawings, appointments…

In between, I got a new smartphone to replace the iPhone that was stolen in London. And I went with a Moto G. It’s true that the camera component is not as good as the iPhone’s, but the interface is so much more thoughtful from a design point of view. I am rather happy with the phone, and impressed with how sophisticated it is for something that cost less than $200.

More news later. I have a rendezvous with my new favorite pasta: roasted potimarron, crisped lardons, creme fraîche and parmigiano.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

I can’t help it, but I miss some of the things that were stolen from my totebag in London.
Inside the tote were a bunch of things I really loved and I’m sad they’re gone. I didn’t really want to have to buy each thing twice, but I may end up doing so… I try REALLY HARD to not be too attached to things, but I like things. I can’t help it.

I miss my Clare Vivier leopard print clutch which was a present I gave to myself for working super hard. Those thieves have no idea. I’m sure they threw the clutch away once they burrowed down into the bag to get to my wallet, phone and camera. Fuckers.
I also miss a favorite MAC lipliner (in Brick,) a Laura Mercier lipstick (in Truly Red), and a MAC lipstick (in Desire.) I miss my trusty “Photoshop in a tube,” as well as the wallet TA gave me as a Christmas present a few years ago. And since I’m cataloguing everything, I should also shed a tear for my sunglasses, TA’s red knit cap and my little beret.

On the bright side, everything can be replaced. Not like last time.

Sometime in the 90s, TA and I had all of our luggage stolen from the back of a rental car, in Los Angeles. I was despondent for months (years, even) because nothing could be replaced. We had each packed all of our favorite clothes which, inconveniently enough, happened to ALL be vintage so there was no way we could assign a value to anything on the police report. Charcoal gray, 3-button 1960s suede jacket? Poof. Nubbly lemon yellow 1950s pencil skirt? Gone. One of TA’s beautiful Western shirts (with smile pockets!) previously owned by Chris Isaak… See? Even now, thinking about these lost things, I am sad.

Apparently the universe decided that I needed another lesson in being more mindful.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

We went to look at a new apartment last night. It is one owned by the woman for whom I worked back in October (the luxury client publisher.) Her tenant is moving out, and she thought of us, so we checked it out.

Her description over the phone was uncharacteristically enthusiastic, with an emphatic “extraordinaire!” at the end. She said there was one drawback: it’s a 5th floor walkup.

For the last couple of weeks I have been preparing myself to be underwhelmed, but I was surprised. The apartment is really nice. Small, but nicely laid out with windows in the back overlooking the courtyard (bedroom), and windows in the front overlooking the street (living room.) The living room is actually one very big room that can act as living and dining with a bit of space for working. The kitchen and bathroom are not ideal (no oven, no bathtub) but the apartment has two features we weren’t looking for that I think will become dealbreakers in the future: working fireplaces! One in the living room, one in the bedroom.

The apartment also has some nice architectural details, beautiful old floors and there’s a tiny balcony/terrasse off the living room windows for plants, a cat’s widow’s walk, or as the landlady said,“the fireplace wood.”

Of course the reason we might be ideal tenants is that she wants the rental off the books. She said she'll give us whatever paperwork we need for any accounts we need to open etc, but that she’d rather the rent were a cash transaction. TA and I have a lot of questions to think about and negotiate with her, but I like that when I asked about redoing the kitchen, she said, “You can do whatever you want. You have taste. Just don’t ruin the fireplaces or the floor.”

We move from the 17ème to the 10ème in March. We’ll be two blocks away from the canal Saint Martin and a stone’s throw from Gare de l’Est. I will miss the marché bio des Batignolles, but we will make new discoveries.

Fingers crossed this all works out. It could be the real beginning of our life in Paris.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Spent a few days in London, had a lovely time until my bag was stolen from the back of a chair at a nice restaurant. It was our last night, and a sad way to end the trip. Phone, ID, camera, favorite hats and lipstick and leopard print clutch inside of cute totebag… gone.

Everything can be replaced -- cards have all been cancelled, phone chip has been disabled, new ID card will soon be in process -- but I still feel terrible. Terrible about my naiveté, terrible about how TA reacted (he always thinks these things are his fault for not being vigilant enough, for not being a better protector of me,) terrible about how long it is going to take get things back on track.

Getting a French ID card will be the biggest pain in the ass of all. Getting one from the consulate in NYC is a cakewalk compared to the administrative procedures and humiliations I am going to be subjected to here. I went to the Mairie of my arrondissement this morning and was told that I was going about things all wrong and that, furthermore, my photos were unacceptable.

Good thing I never expect these things to go smoothly! Low expectations are a life saver (except when you’re an idiot in London and lulled into thinking thieves have the night off.) I made an appointment online at a mairie in a neighboring arrondissement (the first one I could get), and will begin gathering all of the paperwork and of course, get new photos made.

Before any of this happened, I joined a 30-Day Yoga Group and every week we meditate on a different theme. This week’s theme? Forgiveness. Needless to say, I am having a hard time forgiving myself for my abject stupidity.