Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Eclair

Today was day 4.  I ate eggs for breakfast, chicken with asparagus and a plum tomato for lunch, olives for a snack, and sneakily managed to "forgot" the pie crust while making quiche for dinner and turned it into an egg casserole type thing with tomato sauce on top.  I even passed on the pasta.  And then came The Eclair that the mom pulled out of the fridge that she had bought for me for my last night and everything went down the drain.

I couldn't not eat it.  It was perfectly-bronzed pastry filled with coffee-flavored custard and a coffee-flavored creme strip on top.  It was beautiful.  And she had bought it just for me.  It was one last kind gesture of a woman who knew all too well what it was like to be at her wit's end with her children, so much so that she hired someone else to take care of them.  A last parting gift, a "sorry for my brats, I hate them too" bonding moment.  Well, at least that's what I thought in my head.  So I couldn't just not eat it.

I got away with splitting it with her and only ate half instead of the whole thing.  But it was a delicious half.

And I don't regret it.  If I had to cheat with something, that was a delicious something to cheat with.  I'll make up for it the next few days, run a little extra and go vegetarian for a day or something like that.  I already know I'll be cheating with wine and fondue this weekend so hey, why not start with a bang?

I've also learned that I hate Les Soldes, the twice a year government-regulated sales in almost every store.  I'd rather pay full price and have a full selection that hasn't been picked through by the swarming hoards of tourists that descend on Parisian shops each summer.  Winter soldes were better, I think there was less competition.  Of course everything I wanted to buy is sold out, everywhere, and the stores are such a wreck it's hard to find a replacement.  Oh well, I don't need to spend money anyway (even though the skirt I wanted was marked down to 7 euros and they only have the ugly color left....errrg).  They last for a month so maybe something will pop up.  We shall see.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A carbivore goes low carb, day 3

So I don't know if any of this is working.  It's day 3.  I have no scale or measuring tape so I really don't have any way to know other than how I feel.  But they say that's healthy, no?

I discovered a few things this morning.

1. Not all artificial sweeteners are equal (pun intended).  I usually hate all artificial sweeteners but I gotta do something, they eat plain yogurt like it's water here.  Apparently maltodextrin has a higher glycemic index than table sugar.  It is not recommended by the South Beach book, but I don't have that in front of me now, do I?  Maybe the big container of maltodextrin they bought for The Boy's diet is the reason he still looks the same as when I got here, that and a complete lack of enforcement by his parents, but that's another story.  So I'll either have to find another temporary solution or do without.

2. Carrots are not allowed.  But it's a vegetable!  I don't think I've eaten many carrots yet but I had a small amount at dinner last night and bought a few to snack on.  Maybe I'll let that rule slide.

3. Cold cuts have sugar in them.  Who knew?  It's listed as "dextrose" which is another name for glucose, which I'm fairly sure I learned in some metabolism or nutrition class back in college but conveniently forgot.  Sneaky meat manufacturers.  Regardless, it's the last ingredient listed so it can't be that significant, and the South Beach guy says cold cuts are kosher, so I might just keep them around, at least in small quantities.  I'm not trying for a total overhaul here.  I figure just getting rid of the rice/pasta/bread/potatoes stuff will help a lot, since it's normally about 99% of my diet.  Hey, Paris is expensive and pasta's cheap.  Don't judge.

So those have been my mistakes, or would-be mistakes if I was really taking this all that seriously.  Maybe that's why I feel like nothing's changed.  Oh, and last night I popped a few reject pieces of peach in my mouth while preparing a fruit salad before I realized it.  It's really cruel to have to prepare pastas and potato salads and fruit salads and all this stuff when I can't eat it.  Then again, peach is a relatively low-sugar fruit, I think, so I'm not gonna worry too much.  I won't be one of those obnoxious obsessed dieters who can't have any fun.  At least I hope not, because on Monday we're going to Refuge des Fondues for Kristin's last night and you better believe there will be bread-dipped-in-cheese and wine-out-of-baby-bottles mayhem.

This is, however, the most successful "diet" I've ever been on, even if I don't lose any weight, I've actually stuck pretty close to it for 3 days now.  It think that's a new record for me.

About to go for a run, I wonder if it'll be harder with this lack of carb intake.  Let's go find out.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Heat wave

Yesterday I was celebrating the return of the sun into Parisian skies.  Now I want it to chill the eff out.  Apparently it has returned with a vengeance and it was 95 degrees all day and these crazy Parisians are still convinced that they don't need air conditioning or fans or anything of the sort.  I even saw a few people in jeans and/or cardigans.  But of course, they were French so they weren't sweating.  So I have taken 4 cold showers today, my only way to cool down.  Thank goodness I had the motivation to get up and run at 9 am instead of waiting til the middle of the day like I was tempted to.

Speaking of running, I have successfully completed day one of low/no-carb crash diet.  To help I spent 24 euros on chicken and various veggies.  I was so hungry by the time I got to the family's house that I went all Atkins on 3 pieces of sausage, 1 of which was legit sausage left over from a few nights ago with red beans when I was alone and no one was looking, but 2 of which were pretty much hot dogs.  I don't know how they act all pretentious about American food when they literally boiled some hot dogs/"sausages", dropped them on the plate and called it dinner.  But whatever, it's not carbs, and I pretty much ate 2 eggs and 2 chicken cold cuts the whole day before that so I deserved it.

Of course, The Girl was allowed to bring her toys and play at the dinner table, and then The Mom said "eat first, play after you eat" and actually expected it to work.  Like, hello lady, have you met your child?  Or heard me saying the exact same thing to her so often she doesn't even hear it anymore?  Or have you just zoned out of your life completely?  Not that I blame her.  I was a little more irritable than normal over dinner tonight.  Maybe it's the low-carb effect on my brain levels of serotonin.  Or maybe it was getting Littlest Pet Shop toys all up in my salad and listening to her whining when her mom got annoyed and having to pass over the potato salad with corn in it that smelled SO good.  But I did.  Props to me.  And the boy wasn't there at all.  So all in all, not a bad day.  

Contemplating another cold shower.  In fact I'm contemplating just sleeping in the shower while the water runs over me all night.  Sounds heavenly.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


The sun has decided to come back into my life.  I almost forgot what sunshine was like.  Back in Florida I always took sunny days for granted, but the last two weeks in Paris have made me realize how valuable it really is.  Kristin, Josie, and I took a walk along the promenade plantée, which is a park created on an old above-ground train trestle.  Unfortunately, I am out of batteries for my camera and I can't afford to buy more until I get paid later this week so no pretty pictures but don't worry, they'll come back soon.

Kat has been staying with me since Tuesday morning and I like having people here because it lets me be a tourist for a little while.  We went to the catacombs and to Sacre Coeur/Montmartre and just did general touristy things.  I took pictures with her camera but forgot to load them to my computer so maybe they're lost forever, who knows.  Oh well.

Someone on my floor is cooking a delicious meal and it reminds me that I have 10 days until I leave for Italy and will be expected to wear a swimsuit at some point, so 10 days to put together and execute some form of crash diet so I can take fabulous pictures in said swimsuit.  I'm thinking low/no carb but I am a carbivore and that is always quite difficult so we'll see.  I never really follow through with crash diets anyway, I think about them for a few days but then forget or stop caring.  Probably more healthy that way.  But this is Italy we're talking about, I need to get serious [cue Serious Face].  If my next several posts contain more whining and complaining than normal, you'll know why.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Crazy Au Pair

I have officially become Crazy Au Pair.  But it's not my fault.  They drove me to this point.
Me: the crazy, child-hating Wicked Witch Au Pair; or,
what I'd like to do with these bratty children.

Yesterday I arrived at 2 pm at The Grandmother's house to take him home and do more homework with the boy.  We needed to read 6 chapters.  But of course, he couldn't be bothered to get his lazy butt off the sofa and stop watching TV so I just went to his apartment to clean the kitchen, and do my #1 activity as an au pair:  wasting time.

He finally showed up about 20 minutes later and started reading (after asking if I would read to him again and I said no, he's 13, not 3, and he is perfectly capable of reading a book by himself, and if he's not then this would be good practice for him).  Then a while later he took a 20 minute bathroom break.  Then he read some...then another 20 minute bathroom break...then some more reading...then getting a snack...then some more reading...then a 30 minute conversation with The Girl's when I left him at around 6 to go to the store and fix dinner, he was only a few pages into his 3rd chapter of the day.  I asked him to finish it and write his summary, then we could take a break and eat dinner, then finish the other 3.  Hour later: I come in to see where he's at and he is watching a movie.  I ask about his summary: didn't do it.  It was everything I could do not to flip and somehow convinced him to scratch up a hack job summary that probably sucks (but what to I care, I hope he fails the damn thing) just to get me off his back and back to his movie.

Dinner time came, he gave an attitude and never came down.  And hour later I went upstairs and said dinner time was over, he had a break, it was time to keep working.  And of course, more attitude.  I told him I wasn't staying all night, I had plans, we needed to get this done now, etc etc.  More attitude.  And then I snapped.

I told him he had had all morning and half the afternoon to sit on his lazy butt and watch TV and was acting like a jackass (hey, if he's old enough to read the word in To Kill A Mockingbird, he's old enough to be called it) and I was sick of his attitude and just because he didn't have any friends to hang out with doesn't mean I don't either and that I couldn't wait til next Thursday when he gets on a plane and I never have to see him again and him and his homework are no longer my problem.  Slammed the door. Banged pots around in the kitchen.  Broke a glass.  Mumbled about how much I hate my f-ing job and babysitting an f-ing 13-year old who was too pathetic to read a damn book by himself, loud enough, intentionally, so that he could probably hear through the open windows.  When his movie was done he came downstairs and just sat in the living room.  I said: "If your going to sit on your lazy butt all night could you at least do it with a book in front of your face or would that just be too much to ask?"  Of course, it was.

So I texted The Mom and told her I was wasting my time with her son and when would she be home because I had someplace to be.  She texted me back and said I could leave if I wanted to.  I wanted to.  Haven't heard from her since, I'm assuming I'm supposed to go in sometime today but I sure don't know when.

Maybe I was too harsh.  He'll survive.  Hope I haven't been fired.  But good riddance.  I guess the homestretch is the hardest, right?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pain my left hand.  Because someone decided that metal pots with metal handles would make a great invention.  And then some other equally brilliant French woman decided they'd make a great addition to her kitchen.  And then her effing genius of an au pair got second degree burns on her left hand because she forgot to get a towel before picking up the pot by its metal handle.  Why should I have to get a towel before using a handle that by name is designed to be touched with your hand?  WHY IN GOD'S NAME would someone make, or buy, pots with metal handles?  Probably because, let's be real, it's not like she ever uses them anyway.  Let the hired help burn themselves; at least her pots look nice.

Like my childhood friend Alexander, I am in a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad mood.  There is exactly 1 month before I hop on a plane and traverse the Atlantic back to my home turf, and I think this is a sign.  I had to settle for a quicker-than-usual 2 mile run because The Mom wanted me to come in early to help the boy with his summer reading homework.  Of course, coming in early didn't mean leaving early, it meant staying 7 and a half hours.  Oh, and did we mention that by "help him with his homework" she meant "read the book to her 13-almost-14 year old son because he's too lazy/retarded to do it himself"?  I guess we just did.  So I read, out loud, 3 chapters of To Kill A Mockingbird to this spoiled pampered overweight brat of an adolescent so the poor dear wouldn't risk straining his eyes or getting papercuts or something ridiculous like that, because he claimed he understood it better orally.  Of course, when we got to the actual assignment of summarizing the setting, characters, and plot of the chapter it was made fairly clear that he didn't remember anything of any sort of importance so he had to read it again, himself this time (oh heaven forbid he do something himself) while I sat there babysitting him, because reading and summarizing is just too gosh darn complicated to do on his own.  Is this not embarrassing to him?  Or better yet, to his mother who allows him to go through life like this?  Because it's really pathetic to me.  I really don't know how these people survive in the world.  According to the whole survival of the fittest thing, shouldn't somebody have shot them by now?

I doubt it's a coincidence that on the 1 month mark I once again start fantasizing about the things I'd like to say to these useless excuses for people when I say goodbye for the last time.  If they ask me any more of these stupid questions like "so did this year make you really want to have kids?" or "will you come visit us when you come back to Paris?" or "will you miss us?"  I guarantee there will be no more side-stepping and sugar coating, but instead a cold, flat "hell no" with a smile and a wave.  Or at least a "good riddance" murmured under my breath.  No, maybe I take that back.  The Mom really is quite nice.  It's just the bratty children she's raised horribly that I can't stand.  And my useless, blistered left hand is not helping their case in my book.

Rant over.  I also don't think it's a coincidence they haven't put next year's au pair in touch with me.  I think they know.

On the bright side, I have finally finished the Oreos.  I'm really much better off without them, they are bad for me and my milk doesn't last long enough when they are here.  So a big thank you to myself for taking one for the team and eating them all, otherwise they'd still be sitting on my shelf tempting me.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I Love Burger (but not with BBQ sauce, please)

No, that isn't just me deciding to use caveman-style grammar to express my love of a juicy mid-rare chunk of ground beef.  That is actually the name of this burger place I found on Rue des Boulangers in the 5th (yes, it's called "I Love Burger"...what was your first hint that it's run by French people?)

But really, it's not bad.  It's actually really good.  And it's hella cheaper than Breakfast In America.

They got burgers that start at €5 including fries.  They got tacos that start at €3 for 2. They got bagels.  They got quesadillas, burritos, and enchiladas (but watch out, when they say "enchiladas" they seem to actually mean "nachos"). They even have gourmet mini-burgers with bun-stuffings such as foie gras and little poppy seeds on top (I guess that's the French influence, like, "alright guys, I know we're running a burger joint, but we gotta throw foie gras on something"). They have milkshakes and Ben & Jerry's and muffins and, for some reason, those little hamburger gummy candies for like €0.50.  And, if you live close enough, they deliver.

My only real complaint is the ketchup bottle.  No, I'm not ridiculously picky, but last time we went one of the ketchup bottles had at some point been filled with BBQ sauce (good BBQ sauce, at least) and then they continued to top it off with ketchup because it was, after all, a ketchup bottle.  So we used it once and it was ketchup, but then soon after BBQ sauce started coming out and we were a little confused.  But we figured they'd get the hint at some point and didn't say anything.  However, we went today (a week later) and the same ketchup bottle on the same table still had BBQ sauce hiding under the ketchup.  Which really makes me wonder how long that BBQ sauce has been there..... I told the server who apologized but didn't seem to believe me and put it back on the table.  I guess I'll try it a third time and if there's still BBQ sauce in it I'll probably say something again (maybe I'll come with a French person so they can explain fully in case it's still there).  Because I like ketchup, and if I have to eat another set of french fries with BBQ sauce out of a ketchup bottle I will be très énervée.

Oh, and they apparently charge €0.50 for eating in the restaurant, which is bizarre, but whatever, it's still cheap.

Regardless of the ketchup/BBQ debacle, what they don't have that Breakfast In America provides and provides quite well, is breakfast (as it's name would suggest).  While I Heart Burger does have a brunch (and it's decently-sized, at €10.50), the people next to us today ordered it and it just doesn't hold a candle to a good ole BIA breakfast platter.  The juice isn't even fresh.  But if a classic American burger served à point or some tex-mex burritos or enchiladas/nachos are what you're craving, skip the high prices and long lines at BIA and head over to I Love Burger and give it a try.

But now, without further ado, I must go to bed and try to be Responsible and Productive tomorrow, and get up early to go for a run, because apparently my dad has started giving this blog to his running friends and now I feel like I need to impress them with my sportiness and not let them know that I'm currently sitting in bed in my underwear eating Oreos.

...oh well.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

2 things

1. I have not slept enough this weekend.  Last night was a toga party at WOS and today I went to a concert in a park with Kristin and Josie so now I'm recovering in bed, waiting for ibuprofen to kick in and knock out these cramps.  Now that I've run out of my birth control prescription I have 6 and a half years' worth of Mother Nature's pent-up rage taking it's vengeance on my uterus.  Note to future au pairs: don't let this happen to you.  Do whatever you gotta do to stock up before you leave.

2. I have some things to add to my "list of things I dislike"

     5. Rat dogs
     6. Men who own/publicly walk rat dogs (like, seriously. Have some dignity.)

3. I know I said 2 but I lied. You now get 3 thoughts when you only expected 2.  What a deal.  Etienne is out of town but I need him to come back so we can book hostels/hotels for Italy because I am afraid space will run out and we will be homeless.  Which, really, could be an adventure of it's own, but not how I'm imagining my vacation.

I cannot wait for this.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Things I've Learned That I Dislike In Paris

1. Children (rather unfortunate due to my job, but hey, it's not like y'all didn't see this one coming)
2. Children of stay-at-home moms (at all ages, including adulthood)
3. Stay at home moms
4. Parents of overweight children

Sorry if I offended anyone, but I guess that's kind of what I do.

If you fall into these categories and we are still friends then you are obviously an exception to these.  Call me out at will.

I know that's negative; if you want a more positive list, here's some things I've learned that I like in Paris:

1. Oxfords (the shoes)
2. chinos and boy-fit jeans
3. blazers
4. skinny jeans (or at least straight jeans)
5. high-waisted jeans (or at least not low-rise jeans)
6. pain au chocolate

So, in summary, I've learned I dislike people but I like clothes and food.  C'est très typique de Paris, non?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Random fashion rant

Ok, now those of you who know me well know that I consider myself to be about as unfashionable and un-trend-conscious as they get. Like, I'm just now realizing that crop tops are back (not for me, they're not...)

So take anything I say with a grain of salt.  I remember last summer hearing something about socks with sandals and brushing it off as nonsense...but I just saw this on Topshop's website and it made me cringe:

Yes, that does say "I love these wooden sandals, and they look great with a pair of cute socks..." which immediately sent me into a flustered fit of "NO NO NO NO NO" that somewhat reminded me of my mom driving in an unfamiliar city.  IT'S BACK.  One summer wasn't enough. Apparently even Burberry has put socks on its sandaled models.  Listen, people, I think we've all learned that what works (or doesn't) on a runway does not necessarily translate to what works on you.

So after a quick google search to confirm whether this really is an up-and-coming trend I'll be seeing much more of, I found this in a Huffington Post article:

You're probably like, yeah, so? Socks with sandals, isn't that the point?  Except it was accompanied by this phrase written by Lindsay Mannering (whoever she is, just trying to not get sued here):
"Dare I say the sock and shoe combo adds a sexy, boyish charm to the outfit?"
Sure, Lindsay, I suppose you could dare to say such a thing, but you'd be dead wrong.  There is nothing "sexy" about this look, from the center-parted hair, the deer-in-the-headlights facial expression, the bunched-up, volume-adding skirt, and yes, even the white athletic-looking socks with otherwise quite nice pink sandals that are giving me PTSD flashbacks of bad elementary school fashion when I was just discovering how to dress myself, or at the very least the embarrassingly un-French way The Mom dresses The Girl each day (as if the multi-layers of red on pink and the too-short pants wasn't enough...socks with sandals hasn't been attempted yet, but it has been mentioned...)  The only "charm" that this outfit emanates  is the kind that makes people smile knowingly and say, "Hello, little girl, did you dress yourself today?" which is actually something I've said before and was a bit embarrassed when she said "no" in front of the mother who DID dress her.  Oh well, maybe they got the hint.

I can condone tights with sandals, but socks is just a bit much.  It adds volume to your feet, it cuts your legs off with the horizontal line, which, as a proud owner of a pair of rather short legs I'm a bit conscious of, and makes you look like a camp counselor from a bad 90s movie.

PLEASE, for the love of anything good and beautiful in this world, let's keep this one contained.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

So you wanna be an au pair in Paris?? part 3

OK OK OK.  I'm finally doing it.  Sorry I've been a Lame Blogger lately, I guess  I just had my doubts that anyone would actually still want to be an au pair after coming across my blog.  I mean, y'all realize it involves CHILDREN, right?

But I digress.

SO. HOW MUCH IS THIS REALLY GONNA COST YOU? It seems like any other job, right?  You go through the interview, do the paperwork, and start getting paid?  Wrong.  The dark side of being an au pair - the part they don't tell you - is that you're going to rack up some expenses of your own.  And you thought the "dark side" was the kids..... Let's take a look at these, shall we?

1. Au pair paperwork.  The French government will want a copy of your most recent diploma (probably high school, even if you have your college diploma already) and a "letter of motivation," i.e., why you want to be an au pair.  But despite the fact that almost everyone in France speaks English, an English copy of these documents won't suffice.  Oh no.  You much have a translation of these documents.  And not just any Google Translate hack job will work either.  It must be done by a "certified translator."  Cost for my HS diploma: $75.  And I thought this was expensive until I called around and other translators wanted to charge as much as $200 for this. I went with $75 and called it a day.  As for my letter of motivation, I don't believe this needs to be "certified."  I plugged it into Google Translate (hint: this will become your best friend) and figured the bad translation would prove to them how much I really really needed to study and improve my French.  Try to scan and email these documents to your host family to avoid international postage fees.

Cost: AT LEAST $75.

2. Visa.  A long stay visa costs $141 according to the Miami consulate website.  I have been told that since what you end up getting is a student visa, some consulates will charge you $71 instead.  Mine didn't.  Have $141 set aside just in case.

Cost: $141

3.  Place tickets, both ways.  If you are arriving in August, expect to spend at least $800 on a plane ticket.  Yes, that's one-way.  In September they will get lower, I was able to find a ticket for $500 at  The same rule applies for coming home; July and August will be the most expensive times to return because these are France's vacation months.  I would budget between $1600-$2000 to pay for both flights, but this will vary depending on where you are coming from and if you find better deals than me.  Book your return flight early, they only go up.  If you have leftover money, then you'll have extra money to spend in Paris, or on a flight home for Christmas (I was able to find a ROUND TRIP for around $700 since winter flights are cheaper).  Worst case scenario, fly to Paris then tell your parents if they ever want to see you again they'll have to pay for your ticket home because you are now a broke au pair with no money.  It worked for me.
TIPS: It will probably be cheaper to fly into/out of NYC, or a major city, than other places, but consider the extra cost of baggage on domestic flights that you don't have on international flights before booking 2 separate trips.  Also, many people find cheaper tickets to London then take the Eurostar to Paris.  If you do this book early, the Eurostar is notorious for raising ticket prices at the last minute.

Cost: Let's say $1600.  May be more, may be less.

4. French classes.  Some families pay for these, but most don't because they are told by au pair websites that they don't have to.  They are expensive, especially in the city of Paris.  They can be cheaper elsewhere.  You theoretically have to sign up for a whole year, but most language schools don't even let you sign up for a year at a time.  Mine, Campus Langues in the 19th arrondissement, has an au pair program which cos€455 for 10 hours a week, for 12 weeks.  If you want to reenroll at the end of these 12 weeks (which you are supposed to do), double this.  If you only enroll for 8 hours a week for one 12 week session and stop taking classes after that, it's only 395.  No one from immigration will hunt you down if you do this, but it will probably be difficult to renew your visa if you want to stay a second year.

Cost:  if you do what you're supposed to: €455 x 2 =  910 =  $1,333.42 at the current exchange rate.
          if you're cheap like me: 395 = $578.79
         cost of textbooks: €25 = $36.63.  You may need to buy another one of these later in your course as your French gets better.

NOTE: you will have to pay a pre-enrollment fee which will be taken out of the total cost.  Your family will probably pay this for you since you won't be there to do it, but they might ask you to pay them back afterwards by taking it out of your pay (like mine).  Just saying, be aware.

Grand total: $2431,42 (if you evade immigration law and skimp on the classes), or $3059.05 (if you take a whole year of 10 hours a week like you're supposed to).

Yeah, it's kind of a lot.

Some other things you may or may not have to pay for:

6.  Phone and phone credit.  You will want to get a cell phone as soon as you get here.  It was the first place my au pair mom took me.  The cheapest phone at Orange was around €30, and you'll need to pay for mobicarte credit as well.  If you have Verizon in America, your cell phone will be useless over here.  If you have another provider, you may or may not be able to use your own phone with a French SIM card.  Talk to your cell phone people.  DO get a French number/SIM card, no matter what phone you use.  DON'T keep your foreign number and rack up hundreds of dollars in roaming fees.  DON'T get a "France plan" with your American company because although it may be cheap for you none of your new French friends will want to pay international fees to text or call your American number.  Just get a damn French number, alright?

5. OFII taxes.  Once you're here you'll have to go to about 7 different places/appointments with various paperwork and pay a tax and get your medical exam (read: topless x-ray.  Yes, it's awkward).  My tax was €55.  I'm not going to include this in the total because you don't have to do this immediately, by the time you work through the bureaucracy and get to the medical exam (where you pay), you'll probably have gotten paid, so you can use this money if you need to.

6. Spending money for your first month.  Most families don't pay you til the end of the month.  Unless you want to starve (if you live separately) or be anti-social for the first month until you get paid, bring at least a few hundred euros in pocket money to last you til then.  And don't forget your PIN and let your debit card get eaten by the ATM unless you're sure you know how to ask the bank in French to give it back.

So moral of the story is, start saving kids, maybe you can get a family who pays for some of these things to lower the costs, or maybe your parents will pitch in as a graduation present, but if you're footing the bill yourself I'd suggest getting a second job or two.

You'll also want money to spend on clothes, fun, and travel, so save up enough to pay these costs and THEN SOME because your au pair monthly pay does not usually go very far.  My biggest limit to travel has been money.

Oh, and as for the clothes, don't buy clothes in the states thinking they'll be "European" style, because they're probably not. Save that money and buy clothes here.  You'll thank me for that later.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Exercise motivation

So I'm sitting in my room not going out because I've spent too much money this weekend and need to be nice and frugal all this week if I want to have any fun next weekend.  And I know I'm just being lazy and really need to get out for a good run so I don't get into that habit I always do of running for 3 or 4 weeks then not for 2 or 3 weeks and then just cycling through the whole thing over and over.  But I am so unmotivated.  1. it's hot. 2. I'm hungry. 3. My bed is comfortable and lounging around in my underwear is more fun than getting hot and sweaty in front of judgmental French people who don't sweat when they run (I don't get it, really).

So to find a cure for my running funk, I googled "motivation to exercise" and came up with your typical stuff that I already know but obviously isn't working right now.  Like, "envision your goals" or "keep an exercise journal."  I've never been big on goal-setting, and all I'm envisioning is me being sweaty and having to walk back up my 5 flights of stairs, and come on, I'm too lazy right now to even run in the first place, why would writing it down, essentially adding ANOTHER task to something that is already more than I want to do, going to help?  If anything it'll just give me something else to feel bad about when I forget to write it down. Silly exercise hippies.

So then I decided to take the classic anorexic route of looking up "thinspiration," the ridiculous pictures on those pro-anorexia websites of really in-shape celebrities and even some scary skinny skeleton women (I didn't look those up), when, let's be real, those in-shape celebrity women spend hours with personal trainers, they do not look like that from starving themselves, but you can't reason with someone who is publicly defending an eating disorder, can you?  I pretty much found a lot of scary Halloween haunted house girls (they should seriously consider that as a seasonal job) and some underwear models that are just making me hungrier thinking of all the things they probably DON'T eat.  Motivation fail.

                               EAT A CHEESEBURGER ----------->

So, third times a charm, since the skinny models just make me want to vomit (and not in the get-skinny kind of way) I decided to go for the Fear Factor approach.  Fear is a powerful motivator, right?  So I found these:
And, quite possibly the best motivator ever: this guy.  WARNING: not for weak stomachs. It's in French, you don't really need to read it to get the point, but the title is "Thinspiration Man: he lost 186 kg (410 lbs)"

Got my shoes on and I'm out the door.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Yes, I am eating Nutella out of the jar.

No, I don't see the problem with that.

That's all.

Wait, no it's not.

Yes, this is really what Paris is like.

Wait, not it's not...