Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Letters From Paris Guestage: Letters TO Paris!

Cross-posting an article here that is for Beth Arnold's site, Letters From Paris. I'm so THRILLED to be selected to contribute, thanks Beth for letting me write for Letters from Paris!

Everyone... go read this STAT! It's new, it's different, it's full of happy-unicorn-rainbowy Paris references.

Here's a preview, read the rest here:

Last month, I decided to turn the tables on my Letter From Paris column, and I invited readers to send me original (not published elsewhere) material as Letters To Paris.

And this is from Shannon...

My husband and I just got back from our vacation to Italy. We went to Sardaigne expecting the tropical beaches and a luxury hotel with all the perks. Two words: "all inclusive." After weeks of working like a dog under the gray skies of Paname, our ship had come in. Hello sun!
The experience was not what we planned. The hotel was a scam and the beach smelled like, well, a giant fart. Algae, don't ask.

Vacationers have a tendency to idealize the coveted sanctuary from reality. We dream of the white beaches and picture how happy we will be "when." Little did we know that our wait was not going to be worth it.
rest here:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

WTF Wednesday: Post-Pout Syndrome.

It's on everyone's lips: the strikes. Something funny happens on my train line, the C, and I suspect I'm not the only one who suffers from it.


Sarko reformed the right to strike forcing the workers to announce it in advance and to provide a minimum service so that the transport-ees would not be screwed in the arse. Sweet of him wasn't it?

My ass, for one, is thanking his bold little 'tude because I remember the hundreds of people packed on the quais, and the crush-me-to-death ride to work where I sometimes feared for my life. If the crowds didn't do you in, the B.O. certainly would. Where's the old spice man when you need him? They make some fine deodorant over there.

I support the strike controls 100%, even though I'm sure there are thousands of people who hit the streets to tell me just how wrong I am and that France is becoming, GHASP, the United States! (Has it really gotten so awful that the US is tantamount to bad?)

Sark's heart was in the right place, I think. Making sure people can get to their jobs is crucial to the country's GDP, but he was a bit naive. The French are not a nation of bend-over-ers. The rules were set in stone, but the crews promptly took out their chisels.

The little effers are quite wily. The strikes never seem to hit when they're planned, but rather 3-5 days after the scheduled day, lasting for up to a week. Take tonight for example. 7:45pm, on my way home... the train is so packed the windows are actually STEAMED. Ridic'.

My guess: they all go on strike, then take vacation after. It's a double rainbow of vacation policy + strike policy that shoots out of my ass no matter what.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How not to sleep + A SURPRISE!!!

Some very good things have been happening lately that I feel I should keep you apprised of, so maybe, you'll forgive my lack of postage of late. I know, you're used to 3-5 articles a week, but, well, tough balls... I'm a busy lady.

First: I quit my effing day job.

I feel a little disappointed this didn't happen when my letter of resignation slid across the table: Hallelujah plays over loud speakers at a thousand decibels while every single champagne bottle in France spontaneously pops its cork and spiky-confetti bursts out of the ass of every last m-f-er who annoyed me at that company.

Oh yes. Enough "waah waaaahhh, I'm not feeling this gig", and a little more action. While this is great for me, finally a little glimmer of hope at the end of my tunnel, I'm a little worried about how it's going to affect my frenchie colleagues. My boss in particular. I'm afraid I may be stirring up the clouds in a brewing work-overload-shit-storm that is going to rain down on her like a feces-hurricane. A feces-a-cane.

But, at least I'm FREE... in two more months. Did I fail to mention that? I'll see your two weeks and raise you 2.5 MONTHS before I'm allowed to stop working there. I know, life's a bitch.

I have two problems (other than the fact that I'm still working there):
1) I feel like I have to finish EVERYTHING I EVER STARTED there before I leave. Which my French colleagues say is the exact OPPOSITE of what most people do in my position. What the effing-ef is wrong with me?

and 2) I told my boss about this (OMFG stupid moment):

Second: I started a new freelance job I'm really enjoying, and they're a bunch of rockstars compared to what I'm used to.

Sure, it's not perfect, no job is -- but... it's more fun than I've had on projects in YEARS. I'm diggin' it. But, that means that I want to do a lot of it. So, you do the math:

   8-11hrs at job 1
+ Several hours at job 2
+ Time w/ husband
+ Friends
+ Family
+ Job interviews at potential job 3 (I've had 4 now, this is getting ridic' and really freaking time consuming)
+ Guest-blogging
- Twitter
- Facebook

= I am getting on average 4hrs of sleep per night since about two weeks.

I always used to think I was busy. MMmmmm. Nope. Wasn't. When you literally no longer have time to SLEEP = busy. Any moment now I'm going to slip into a coma and start babbling something about late deliverables and puppies; but it's worth it.

Third: I'm gonna be a "TATA" !!!!!!!!

NO. Not, "tata" as in nipples, you sick bastage. I didn't just proclaim "I'm going to be a NIPPLE!!!!!" as a reason why I have no time to write. "Tata" is short for "Tante" = AUNTIE!!!!!

Any day now (come on buddy, get OUTTA there, your mom is about to pull your stubborn ass out herself if you don't hurry up), my SIL is going to pop one out! I can't tell you how excited I am for this to happen.

I feel it's only fair to warn them now. Butt, DJ-dirty-D, if you're reading this:

I'm totally stealing your child the very instant he's old enough to travel internationally. I'm going to dress him in too-tight pants, a striped shirt, lovingly place a crooked beret on his head and teach him every single swear word I know while blowing smoke directly up his nostrils and telling him that wine is "god's water". You have about 11yrs to prepare for the end of the world. I might also take him to the Eiffel tower, but I'm not sure if that will be cool when he's 11, so it's penciled in for now.

Can't wait to meet mini-buddy and smother him with lame gifts that he'll think are cool, like french variety or eiffel tower key-chains. I'm scouring the interwebs for gifts already. That takes time, man.

So you're all "What's the surprise dammit?!?!"... see how I did that? Made you read the whole thing? Sadistic. I know.

Anyway, Surprise is that you should stay tuned because VERY soon will be my very FIRST interview in a new series, AND.... A GIVEAWAY!!!

Go check out my girl Lindsey's site to find out what it's going to be, we collaborated on your asses:

Go change your pants. I'll wait.
A bientôt!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Paris Blog Guestage: 5 tips to dealing with a bad vacation

Check it on The Paris Blog!

I recently blogged about my vacation in a "club", organized by a French company. To say this all-inclusive hotel was sub-par is tantamount to saying Picasso was a dude who liked painting. This place wasn't just bad, it created a whole new genre of shabby, a real masterpiece of merde. A complaint session was more than necessary; it was crucial in order to make the French concierge understand I meant business.

After realizing that my discussion with the manager wasn't going to accomplish anything, my husband and I tried to focus on the positive aspects of our trip: beautiful weather, a great pool, lots of rest and quality time together. It wasn't a total loss!

It happens to us all -- bad vacations -- and Paris is no exception. But hotels may not be the only time you may have to take action. It's September. Not only does 99% of the population come home from vacation, clogging the streets, roads and trains, but the season of strikes begins. With all the airline strikes, you may have incurred extra costs because of the delays. If the companies won't cough anything up for strikes, you may get compensated for the extra costs. Even if it's not much, it's better than nothing and feels like justice.

Here are 5 tips to help you deal with disappointment when your French vacation isn't what you hoped:

1. Dont expect immediate help.
The French aren't known for their customer-service skills. While you're explaining all the ways they've blown up the suckometer, they are most likely singing "It's not my faaaa-aaault, nah nah nah naaaah naaah" in they're heads.

Not only will the dude behind the counter not help you, he'll see it as a personal victory if he can provoke you into being irrational. Then, he can shut down communication and send you outta there faster than you can say bed bugs!

The key is to breathe. Don't let that annoying, pompous, self-serving a-hole ruin your vacation. If you explain the difficulties you're having, tell yourself that it's simply a formality.

2. The art of letter writing
Since oral communication will most likely get you nowhere, you need a different solution; enter the letter of doom.

For some reason, the French respond better to written complaints. I imagine they assume that if you took the time to write, stamp and post your woes, they must have been sincere.

Your letter is documented proof that you complained, and normally they have to respond. Send it "recommandée", it assures a confirmation of receipt. That too will show them that you are serious about getting compensation.

3. Hyperbolize the shit out of it
The French are emotional and superlative-friendly. It wasn't bad staying at their place, it was "not possible". The food wasn't "OK", it was "inedible". The customer is not king, he or she is more like the court jester. So, to convince them you're going to have to lay it on thick.

Try to write it simply if responding in English, not everyone is fluent and if they don't understand your complaint it might find itself in the trash instead of a file.

4. Be relentless, read: super annoying.
I'll give it to you straight, one letter is not going to cut it. They'd sooner use it to wipe their asses than to respond to your request. You're going to have to send two or even three before they realize you're not going to stop until you get what you deserve.

5. Don't take the first offer.
That first letter will most likely not be the best they can do. This goes along with number four, keep it going until you get suitable compensation because often times, they can do better.

Hopefully these tips will help you get something for your troubles, and if not, well then the act of writing all those letters can be therapeutic and get you on the road to catharsis. Also, don't forget, the best way to avoid all these problems is to follow good advice of blogs my friends on the "Holla" page!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Bonjour Paris Guestage: Sardinia Vs. Parisians - Part I: Snakes on a Plane

You can take the Parisian out of Paris, but the attitude is not going anywhere.

In this part one of three, I started an all-out line-war. After years of people cutting in front of me, I just snapped, and finally told that mother-fucker off. But, as with most things related to the French, you can't force your cultural ideals on them and expect an easy win.

Read about my insane experience with Parisians on vacation in the latest blog published by Bonjour Paris!

Like it? Share it!

Here it is!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

WTF Wednesday

Windows open? Check.

Cool weather? Check.

Momentary liberty from ass-to-genital-people-sandwich? Checkity-check.

So, why is it that the humidity is 9,000,000,000 % higher in the metro?

I set one foot inside the tramcar and it's as if someone has dumped a bucket of sweat over my entire body.

Even my toes were sweating. That shit ain't normal.

I looked around to see if I was the only one suffering a bout of Perspirationitus, and seems to me the French healthcare system has given them a vaccine I'm obviously missing.

Note to self: bring garment bag full of extra clothes to work and bathe in liquid deodorant before taking the train.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hip Paris Guestage: Rainy Day Paris Solutions from Paris Experts

Photo creds: Hip Paris Blog
Yeah... this is totally still relevant. Depressing, non? Go read it again, or for the first time, or a third time because you have a memory like mine (goldfish caliber), on the Hip Blog!

While you're there -- check out the amazing articles on Italy, France and if you have the chance, mosey on over to Haven in Paris. Warning: Haven in Paris requires a bib. Those apartments are to-die beautiful!

xx S

PS: Sardaigne blogs coming up next week. Sorry, the three billion e-mails and work mentalitude have made it impossible to follow the tweets this week and to come up with more swears for you all. 

BUT, stay tuned, dammit! I have lots of things planned, some more guest-postage, some new features (WTF Wednesday, interviews, book reviews) AND... a GIVE AWAY! You're excited. Don't play it cool. It's OK to squeal.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

My French Life Guestage: Love Thy Banker. Read it, or suffer the slobbery consequences.

Back from vacation in Italy -- blogs will follow on that... experience lol.

In the mean time, an oldie-but-goodie featured on the blog My French Life: Love Thy Banker, aka: Meet then Greet Inappropriately!

Read about my banker-kissing days and the perils of la bise!

Back with more soon,
XX s
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