Category Archives: New York

One More Month in Paris

July 16. That’s the date we move back to New York, which happens to be exactly one month from today. I can’t believe my two-plus years have flown by so quickly…and that I have a mere month left. I don’t even want to think about what moving back to NYC is going to be like. From fellow friends who have loved Paris as much as I do and have been forced had to repatriate, it is going to blow big time. Always the planner though, I’ve decided to combat the inevitable repatriation woes with the following action plan:

  1. Experience NY as an expat! When you’ve grown up in a certain city, you always take it for granted. Not this time around! I’m going to take on NY as if I never lived there. Museums, tourist sights, local events – sign me up tout de suite!
  2. Catch up with old friends, and especially, new friends. We’ve been lucky enough to make friends in Paris who have now returned to NYC. There’s an undeniable bond for those of us who have lived abroad together. Only they can truly understand the ups and downs of your time overseas, resulting in a friendship that will last a lifetime. I’m thankful that if we have to leave our friends here, we at least have many old and new friends to return to.
  3. Travel, travel, travel! Although it won’t be as easy to hop to a new country for a weekend getaway, and I’ll only have a mere three weeks of vacation, it’s time to start exploring Les États-Unis more, and the Americas side of the world.

As for now, many people ask what’s remaining on my bucket list in Paris. So here’s what we’ll be up to with our time left here:

  1. Go to a Crazy Horse cabaret show, which is a raunchier version of Moulin Rouge…I think.
  2. Capture a piece of our Parisian life. Instead of being photographed in front of a slew of tourist sites, I’m hiring our friend Lindsey of Pictours Paris for a family shoot in our apartment, neighborhood, and one or two touristy spots.
  3. Discover a new view of Paris courtesy of Messy Nessy Chic.
  4. Ride bus 69. No, I’m not being a pervert. Paris’s public bus #69 happens to have a très scenic route that includes the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.
  5. Shop! Luckily, les soldes begin June 25 so I can stock up on a much-needed new wardrobe for my new job and return home! I have to attempt to look Parisian chic, after all!
  6. Consume as much cheese, baguette, and wine as possible.
  7. Finally take advantage of the free English guided tours at Notre-Dame de Paris.
  8. Je voudrais faire une réservation, svp! As you can see in my Google map, I’ve eaten at a lot of bars/restaurants in Paris…but there are so many more I still need to try!
  9. Spend quality time with my beloved friends here. Oh, how I’m going to miss them! I love you!
  10. Enjoy Paris!
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Après Paris?

After nearly two and a half years of newfound friendships, unforgettable travel experiences, and maddening #gotfrenched situations, la vie parisienne is sadly coming to an abrupt end. Oui, it’s true.

Just as we moved to Paris for an amazing career opportunity, we are doing the same for our repatriation to NYC. And so au revoir to our plans of living in Paris until 2015 and then moving to London. Ugh, putain.

Up until today, I had started telling my friends in Paris and a few close friends and work colleagues in NYC, with many of them immediately asking me the same question: “Are you excited??” Well, the answer is no, I’m too worried to be excited right now, and I have a feeling I’ll embark on a grieving stage once mobility actually starts. Although I’m happy to be reunited with my friends and family and intrigued about where this next chapter will lead me, I’m anxious about finding an apartment that’s not ridiculously expensive, incredibly worried about finding a full-time job that I’ll love (or finding a job at all!), devastated to be leaving my friends who have become my quasi-adopted family here, and equally devastated about moving from this stunning City of Lights. I love it here.

I love it here even though Frenchies drive me to drink sometimes.

I love it here despite the fact that the concept of efficiency is non-existent.

I love it here even though you have to sign multiple copies of the same document because the government knows Frenchies are too lazy to just make a copy of the one original.

I love it here even though it rains a whole lot more than I remembered (en fait, more rainy days than London!).

I love it here even though stores close for three-hour lunch breaks and it’s nearly impossible trying to remember that la pressing is closed from 1:30pm to 2:30pm, the boucherie from 1pm to 4:15pm (yes, 3 hour and 15 minute lunch break), that one boulangerie is closed on Mondays, while the one next door is closed on Tuesdays, and that la poissonnerie is closed from …wait, I still haven’t figured out when they’re closed in the afternoon.

I love it here even though a lease agreement, French ID card, bank statement, and a cell phone bill still aren’t enough proof of where you live.

I love it here even though painters poop in your toilet and steal your candy. Yeah, actually, no, I take that one back.

I love it here.

But c’est la vie…and my new life will be back in the City That Never Sleeps. What I have to try to remember is that I felt a lot of the same things when I left NYC for Paris. As many of my best friends know, there were many sleepless nights ruminating about the challenges that laid before me: would I be able to make new friends? was I ruining my career? would Tyler survive the flight overseas? would I be lonely? Yes, no, yes, and no. It all worked out, and I’m cautiously optimistic it will when I return.

I really do love you, NYC, even though this blog post probably doesn’t sound like it. I just might love Paris even more.

So, à bientôt, NYC; our repatriation begins this July!

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young (wo)man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” – Earnest Hemingway

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New York Observations

Like a tourist who stops in the middle of the street to look up, up, all the way up at the big New York skyscrapers, I couldn’t help but notice all the idiosyncrasies of New York after having been away for more than a year. Here’s what I was reminded of while in town:

1. New Yorkers are nice! I mean, I’ve always thought that they/we were, but I noticed it more than ever on this recent trip. Every day, I’ve witnessed people offering their seats to others on the subway…and not to people who were old, disabled or pregnant…just regular, not seat-needing people. I saw a guy offer to help an old lady carry her suitcase while ascending the subway stairs yesterday. And yesterday, the nice Apple guy charged my friend Vicky nothing (I repeat, nothing!) to replace her brand new iPhone that she broke…even though it was supposed to cost her $300.

2. Oh, efficiency, how I’ve missed you! It is hard living in Paris. Parisians do not make anything easy for you, and I was reminded by how glaringly different it is there compared to New York’s wondrous efficiency. New York is just so easy. You can have anything you want, any time you want, no questions asked. In Paris, it’s a constant struggle for the smallest things in life.

3. New Yorkers are really freaking loud. I mean, really loud. It was one of the first things I noticed when I came back. On the subway, on the street, in the restaurant, at the store. Do these people have any sense of self-awareness?? Or maybe they just need to have their ears cleaned.

4. New York is a city made for walking…in stilettos. When I first moved to Paris, I still used to rock my usual four inch heels on a daily basis. But after several embarrassing tumbles, I quickly learned that those cobblestone streets were a hazard to my health. For drinks with friends last night though, I wanted to at least channel a little bit of my former New York self and decided to suck it up and throw on some heels. As I kept one watchful eye on the ground while quickly scurrying to the bar, each step I took on that concrete pavement made me feel more confident I wasn’t going to fall on my face.

5. The New York subway system kind of sucks. While heading to Long Island this weekend, what should’ve taken a mere 30 minutes to get to Penn Station, ended up taking nearly an hour. Yes, it’s great that the subway runs 24/7 here, but the Paris metro system is way more dependable.

6. What pick-pocketers?! In Paris, you can’t help but be constantly paranoid you’re going to be pick-pocketed at any moment. Not so in NYC, the “safest big city in America”! Ahh, it’s so nice not to be on the lookout for stealing gypsies!

7. New Yorkers love sweatpants! And they love to wear these stylish, comfortable sweatpants in public. Seriously though, sweatpants are not real pants and should not be worn in public. You would never see a Parisian do this. In fact, they’d put on nice pants and a button down just to throw the garbage away. Keep it classy, New York.

Love you, New York!

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Music I’m Loving: Manhattan

I admit that I effuse about how much I love Paris a lot. Probably too much. But it’s true – I do love Paris and really do never, ever want to leave this city.

Despite all this, I still love NYC. So when I saw this music video on my favorite Parisian beauty blog She Lets Her Hair Down, I had to share it. Not only does the song by Cat Power have a nice melody, but the shots of NYC make me smile.

Happy listening.

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Music I’m Loving: Awkwafina

I read about Awkwafina on New York magazine’s recently redesigned “The Cut” column. I was all ready to be offended based on the article’s title “Can an Asian Woman be Taken Seriously in Rap”, but I’m so glad I read the article and watched the music video. Love her. And I loved her line about how she only had Margaret Cho and Lucy Liu to look up to because “that was it” in terms of Asian American “celebrities”. So true. Now, watch the video.

And here’s her “My Vag” video, which apparently was a hit with feminist media outlets. I just think it’s hilarious and like the lines and the beat.

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My One Year Anniversary And How I Know the Parisians are Rubbing Off On Me

One year ago today, I looked around the empty apartment that Rio and I had bought and shared for five years, locked up and said goodbye to New York. I was off to Paris and despite having incredible worries about risking my career and not being able to make a single friend, I was willing to leave it all behind for Rio and the other love of my life: Paris.

Do I ever miss New York? Sure – there are some hard, lonely days where I think about what the NYC version of me would be doing at that exact moment if I were there. How my friends are probably all having easy laughs with each other and not having to share their “story” with each other… because we all already know each others’ stories. While I’m sitting through “blind friend dates” wondering whether the other person likes me and if we’ll actually hang out again. How I’d be running off to a studio with Starbucks in hand in the hectic craze of preparing for a TV segment for work and bumping into celebrities in the green room. While I’m sitting at home working at a tiny uncomfortable desk in sweatpants and unwashed hair with no human being in the vicinity to have a conversation with. How I’d be going to Long Island with Tyler in tow to bask in the sun and go swimming at my parents’ house. While I’m still shivering in a coat with grey skies overhead.

I miss my friends and family. I miss the sunshine. I miss having anything you want at any time of night and having it delivered to your apartment door.  I miss my NYC life. But do I regret leaving? Not one bit. In one year, I’ve built quite a life for myself here. New friends, new clients, a new home that actually feels like a home, and new adventures. Paris does me good. So in the spirit of my “one year anniversary”, here is my top 5 list of how you know these lovable Parisians are rubbing off on you:

5. You walk straight ahead and make people jump out of the way on the street. It’s not your fault if they get bumped into – they’re in your way.
4. You automatically order un apéritif when you sit down at dinner. It’s to whet the appetite, after all.
3. You go to three different boulangeries in one trip and think that’s completely normal. One for your favorite baguette, one for your favorite croissant, and one for some other favorite baked good.
2. You’re willing to wait on line for 20 minutes for a block of cheese… and don’t think you’re wasting time.
1. You catch yourself making incoherent noises that pass off for words in France. i.e. “uh nah nah nah nah nah”, “plffff” and “upppp”. Fellow expats, you know what I’m talking about.

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Panhandler Party

This makes me (slightly) miss NYC. The only thing I’ve ever seen that was part of an act on the Paris métro were two guys pretending to have a sword fight. Yeah… c’est pas exactement le même. Although, the Frenchies did whistle and clap after the act (ahem, low standards).

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Eating At… Kuma Inn

Image courtesy of New York Magazine

Image courtesy of New York Magazine.

When I was back in NY a few months ago, I had a very specific list of requests on what and where I wanted to eat – mainly, I wanted to satisfy a desperate craving for a NYC slice of pizza, some good Chinese American takeout (non-existent in Paris), old favorite restaurants like Lupa and new ones I’d read about while I was away.

Well, one of my old favorites is Filipino-Thai restaurant Kuma Inn in the Lower East Side. Owned by Filipino-Thai chef King Phojanakong, who’s trained under David Bouley and Daniel Boulud, it’s a narrow little no-frills restaurant located on the 2nd floor of what is not the nicest looking storefront. But before you head there, make sure you stop by the corner wine shop to pick up a bottle as this restaurant is BYOB. Then make your way over to the restaurant, go up a set of dark, narrow stairs and you’ll find yourself in a dim little restaurant that’s busting out reasonably-priced Southeastern dishes with a heavy focus on Filipino cuisine. Think garlic fried rice (my favorite), lechon (deep-fried pork belly), Chinese sausage and spicy tofu.

Kuma Inn
113 Ludlow (near Delancey)
Ph: 001-212-353-8866
Subway: F to Delancey

And here’s a little restaurant tip. If you’re feeling brave, try Kuma Inn’s sister restaurant Umi Nom in Brooklyn (433 Dekalb Avenue). They serve a traditional Filipino dish that’ll gross most people out, but Rio loves – balut, a fertilized egg.

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Paris Vu Par Hollywood

This past Saturday, Rio and I decided to actually be cultural for once and went to check out the “Paris Vu Par Hollywood” (Paris As Seen By Hollywood) exhibit at the Hôtel de Ville. We ended up having to wait an hour in the chilly Paris weather before being able to go in… and well, it wasn’t anything special. Although it’s just a temporary exhibit, I thought it’d be more like something you’d see at the Museum of the Moving Image in NY with more digital and interactive exhibits. Mais non. There were some clips of movies set in Paris, but it was mostly posters and promotional materials with historical content of movies that were shot about Paris. I did learn a few things though. For example, did you know that most movies that were set in Paris were actually usually filmed in California studio lots up until the 1950s? And there were a few movies that we may end up checking out because of the exhibit.

So my recommendation? If the line’s less than 30 minutes, feel free to head on in. After all, it’s free.

Paris Vu Par Hollywood
Hôtel de Ville
Free exhibit until December 15, 2012

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