French working girl

Wardrobe worries are the fun part of being a 10 – 7 working girl in Paris. That and the fact that I love my job and the people I work with. But there are also some boobie traps along the way, some of them of my own doing, and some uniquely French.

While I am loving this gig, it is only an eight week engagement, and then its back to the scrape and grind of being a freelancer, so I feel some pressure to keep this blog running and to continue working for other clients while also taking care of myself and the family with out changing our regular routine. As a result I have days like last Thursday, when I was out the door at 7am to get to the gym. I worked out for an hour before running across the Seine (in high heels) to attend a press conference showing off the new cosmetics department at the BHV. Then back down into the metro to be at my desk, fresh squeezed orange juice and espresso in hand by 10am. You exhausted yet? I was!

That day I was wearing a dress with relatively comfy heels because I was presenting to “the client”. No worries, I’ve been practicing how to dress like a local for ages now and by some miracle I even managed not to forget anything when heading out the door for the gym. I was ready to go. Running to the meeting, I heard a distinctive SCHLACK. Those comfy sandals I’d been so happy with were not happy with me. They were particularly insulted by the forced run across the Pont d’Arcole (had to look that up. Its the bridge from in front of Notre Dame to the Hotel de Ville!) and they decided that now was the moment to go one strike, the outside flap of the right foot coming totally unglued. The rhythmic “whack, whack” of the strap hit my foot, creating an indiscrete little beat as I hobbled my way into the conference room where the client sat waiting.

19h I leave me desk promptly, my shoe still beating a lively tune. I have a dinner date with my friend Jane in the 16th, to test a new restaurant for The Girls Guide. Dinner was lovely as we savoured peach flavoured kir royals and enjoyed refreshingly bright, light cuisine. It was the only nice day of the week. The evening was deliciously warm and balmy, so after dinner we took a quick taxi ride home, changed shoes and headed back out the door for a long stroll along the Seine where all of Paris seemed to have spilled out on to the streets, bands playing, glasses clinking and a roving astronomer showing us the full moon. Lovely. But exhausting as I wandered home sometime just after midnight.

In double income homes, French women do 80% of the domestic chores and pretty much everyone finds this normal. I am not pretty much everyone and I’d be screaming from the rafters if I didn’t usually set my own schedule, and if I didn’t represent 2/3 of the household chores by being the parent of the sole child in the home. Mr French isn’t everyone, either. He has lived in America and knows that this is not necessarily normal. But it has become something of a habit and I am not sure I want to change the routine for an 8 week gig. So, every Sunday since working at the agency, I hit the organic market up the street and prepare enough light dishes to get us through the week at the same time as I prepare Sunday dinner for our troops. On the first Monday of this routine I ran home from the office, steamed a bit of fish and reheated the green beans I’d prepared the night before, sprinkling them with a tasty basil chiffonade. A healthy dinner was served.

As we sat their munching away Em commented that the green beans were slightly undercooked. Mr French concurred. Their comments were met by utter silence, then Mr French broke out in hysterical laughter, “If this isn’t the hell of being a bourgeois housewife. You work all day, come home to make dinner, and we dare complain about the green beans. God, are we spoiled.” Spoiled indeed. Madame was not amused. The next night the same green beans were to be found in our salad niçoise and I can assure, no one dared say anything except, “Wow, Mom, these green beans are just perfect. Thank you!”

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