Clarabella Speaks.

"It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves" - Shakespeare

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Diaries of a Parisian Office Worker: The final instalment.

Ça y est, c'est terminé. I have seen the Eiffel Tower for the last time, finished my last shift, been to my last gym class and most importantly, walked up those stairs for the last time. Whilst I may no longer be a Parisian waitress, we will pass that off as a mere technicality to allow me to complete the promised last blog in a series that brought you lots of laughs and kept me my sanity. Whoever said it is important to be able to laugh at yourself was defs on to something.

Main drama in the last 4 weeks (there had to be something) was the unwelcome contraction of tendonitis in my shins. But alas, not one to be held back by something so minor (slash potentially quite major), after a week of 'cutting back' I decided enough was enough and even ventured into new and crazier sporting territories (google GRIT series to see what I mean), and earned a wrist band for my effort, result. The time for resting is now, when I'm not paying for a gym membership, but which unfortunately coincides with me enjoying some lazy time and fully stocked home cupboards. Oh dear.

The only other near drama was leaving my laptop in a shop changing room and getting 3 metro stops further on before realising I no longer had it. Turns out losing a passport doesn't automatically mean I'm careful with all my belongings and instead I need to learn from each individual mistake in order to never repeat it again. Thankfully someone handed it in and the worst thing I had to deal with was the shop assistant's incredulous reaction, "Mais madame comment est-ce que vous pouvez oublier un ordinateur?!" franchement je ne sais pas.

My last couple of weeks were also when I finally met some friendly Parisians, I kid you not they do exist. One of said mythical creatures came in the form of a bearded homeless woman. She asked for money so I gave her some. Then she told me "they" had stolen her papers and when I told her I couldn't help her, she sat down beside me. Awks. Not wanting to be rude I remained in my seat and we proceeded to have a conversation and share some nougat. #cute. What wasn't so cute was the grown man on the metro picking his nose and wiping it on the door handle, or the woman sat opposite me whose toenails would have put an eagle's claws to shame. The Parisian metro is a weird and not so wonderful place but I will certainly miss it when I'm having to walk 20 minutes at a time to get around Durham.

I will (/already am), believe it or not, miss Paris. No your eyes are not mistaken I did just write that. They (my mother in particular, and mothers really are always right) told me it would happen, and after several false alarms, the city I spent so long hating finally worked its charm on me and I'm even considering going back. OMG. Bet you never saw that one coming. The past 7 months have probably been the toughest of my life (here comes the melodrama) but they have also been the most rewarding and whilst I would never want to relive them, I can honestly say I wouldn't change them. To quote a certain Monsieur Kanye West, "tha tha tha that that don't kill me, can only make me stronger". And I, one year on since I left for Granada, am stronger. Don't worry the emotional sop ends here and I shall bid you farewell with some of my favourite pics of Paris. It's been one hell of a roller coaster, thanks for the support, bitchachos.

Bises, besos, mwah.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Diaries of a Parisian Waitress: 29 days to go.

Okay wow where have those 10 weeks gone? Obviously you have all been missing Clarabella Speaks like caaaa-raaazy and wondering if this absence has meant that Parisian life actually stopped providing me with things to complain about. I too had been wondering the same thing, but let's not get too excited just yet...

June started off well with visits from various excellent friends and family members and I managed to get over leaving Granada again pretty quickly (don't panic it will still always be my numero 1). By mid-June I had even landed myself a waitressing job, which as great as it is, unfortunately brought an end to studio style. The following photo will very clearly explain why this is the case.

No your eyes do not deceive you. That is indeed me resembling Luigi off off Mario Kart, in my brown dungarees (one size fits all might I add so you can just imagine that they fit like a beauty), a blue polo shirt and yes that's right,  A BROWN CAP. It's as if they knew my aversion to all things brown and thought they'd have some fun. The photo is courtesy of my darling sister, who upon arrival at the restaurant could do nothing except laugh, and then document the hilarity so that all those unable to make it to Paris could also share in the amusement. Well the joke's on you (or at least it's not on me) because after 8 weeks on the job I am acting manager until September so I may look ridiculous but at least my waitressing skills aren't equally bad. I even regularly get people's left-over coleslaw over my hands without freaking out; I mean I know they said the year abroad would change us, but I never imagined the change would be quite so drastic.

Aside from waitressing I've just been enjoying summer (even managed to squeeze in a week down south), counting down the days until I see Mr Tayto at Belfast International Airport, oh and casually being made homeless by the world's most RIDICULOUS person. Yes that's right, I am no longer writing from my 5th floor room with a balcony, due to a series of dramatic events caused by the stupidest most frustrating person you would ever wish to meet. I shan't get into all the deets for fear of re-surfacing Angry Clare, but let's just say do NOT trust anyone who sublets a room to you in France (yes I am over-generalising, shoot me if you must) unless you want to get home one day to find all your stuff has been packed into bags and then have them steal 340 euros from you. I guess I should have guessed that someone who spends her entire days playing Mario Kart at 24 years of age isn't what one would define as socially normal. All year-abroaders, you have been warned. 

I did however find a nice new flat with actual people who speak, the only downside being this one is on the 6th floor with no lift (I really do know how to pick them). Walking up the stairs at home will be like free-wheeling down a massive hill in comparison, and it's only 29 days until I get to do it, eeeeeeek! Don't worry though, there'll be at least one more Parisian Clarabella update before I leave; I wouldn't leave you in the lurch like that, I know you'll need time to mourn its departure.


Sunday, 2 June 2013

Diary of a Parisian Office Worker: Granaino Style

So I said I'd be back with updates on my new fabulous Parisian life when I returned. You may have been expecting such updates a week ago, but alas I couldn't bring myself to leave after 3 days so I stayed longer. Bet you didn't ever see that one coming.

I set off last Thursday after my last ever day at work (wooooooooo), more excited than a child on Christmas Eve. Turns out in my excitement, I had failed to pack a single bra, other than the strapless one I was wearing (problematic for practical purposes such as spinning) but I wasn't going to let that hold me down. Nor apparently were my boobs, as proved by a very-almost flashing incident as I ran to catch my plane (never trust timings of the Paris-Beauvais bus system). Thankfully there was no one around to see and I made it to Malaga without being arrested for indecent exposure, where my fabulous flatmate was waiting for me at the customs exit. What followed was one fabulous-isima week of spanish, sun, spinning, fiesta, tapas and 1 kilo of strawberries for 1,50 €. I may have got very burnt within 18 hours of landing, and pomegranates may now be out of season but you'd never have known from the permanent smile on my face. That smile lasted until Thursday morning when obviously the tears came, and lasted all day. Yes, I was one of those people you see crying in public, who appear mentally unstable, but well at least I know I'm not, even if half of Paris now thinks I am.

In all my excitement I did not get round to snapping my holiday outfits so we shall finish with my outfit for today in which I have so far lain on my bed doubled over with pain dreading the day I ever have to experience child-birth. I am however now venturing out to a franglish event, not particularly looking forward to the awkward conversation that is bound to ensue, but how else is one meant to meet French people in Paris? If you can't change the situation, change your attitude to the situation, right?


Monday, 20 May 2013

Diary of a Parisian Office Worker: Why am I such a retard?

Another day, another bank holiday. If we can't have 2 bank holidays every week, can every month at least be like May? It seems almost cruel that the next one isn't until August, but as of next Monday when my stage ends, I am jobless so I guess every day's gonna be a bank holiday, except better because everyone else will be at work, muahaha. Panic not, studio style will still continue (I know you were worried), it will just not be office wear (at least until I find a new job), although it's probably debatable whether the following outfits are office wear anyway - "you can't go to the hotel dressed like that and tell them you work here" - but I made a special effort this week and got 4 of my 5 outfits snapped so whatever, office wear or not here they are.

Please note the appearance of the long-unseen wine shorts in the last photo. My 'gym-fanatic' status is paying off and I can finally wear them again whilst breathing at the same time. Hurrah. Speaking of the gym, never mind walking in changing rooms to full-frontal nudity displays, on Friday I walked out of my shower to discover the woman opposite me did not believe in closing her cubicle door whilst showering. Totes awks, esp when she looked right at me like I was the one in the wrong for being there. HELLO, do you not know what doors are for?! Oh em gee. Also, decided I'd do a weights class on Monday, the added benefit of this being the noticeable male presence. Except it's not really a benefit when you look down mid-conversation with an attractive french boy and realise that the fact that you have not shaved your legs in 2 weeks is much more noticeable than you thought. Oh my life. So now I'm about to begin the waxing process. I say begin because it takes me so long to talk myself into ripping each strip off that if I did both legs and bikini in one go I would not make it to sleep tonight. 

My evening's plans were originally to go for a run, but of course that plan went pear shaped. Today, after 3 previously failed attempts, I successfully purchased a new pair of trainers. Except it turns out it wasn't successfully. I tried them on in the shop, great. I bought them, brought them home, got ready to go out for a run AND IT TURNS OUT THEY ARE ACTUALLY TOO SMALL. 10 days, 7 sports shops, 8 metro journeys, 1 pair of trainers and too much effort later and I am still trainer-less. Why am I such a retard? 

Anyway, we'll move on before you come up with an answer for that question (it's meant to be rhetorical). On Saturday I took a trip to Lille. The good news was I wasn't in Paris, the bad news was I was in Lille. I spent my morning mis-reading maps, getting chased by a duck (ironic given I had just the night before watched the Far East Movement 'Rattle' video and lolled at the thought of an angry duck), and finally in an art museum complete with audio guide (I hate museums, especially with audio guides), to pass some of my remaining 8 hours. The day did however improve from there, and apart from seeking refuge in Sephora to hide from a creepy stalker man, I quite enjoyed myself. The strangest part happened in Paris, on the bus on the way back from Gare du Nord. I was casually sat there looking out the window, and I don't know if the fact that it was grey and rainy confused me, but I had the sudden feeling like I was on my way home. I'm not even joking, like I actually felt at home in Paris. The expression of utter confusion which remained on my face for the next 5 minutes said it all about how unexpected that was but I came to the conclusion that my trip to relatively boring Lille was in fact, a good thing. After wine with a friend last week, I realised that it is about time I started making the most of Parisian life, and so now with my stage ending, my excuse for everything will be "I'm in Paris". Obviously if everything goes excellently this could become problematic because what would I write about then? but we'll cross that bridge when (not if - note the optimism) we come to it. 

I'm going back to my beloved Granada on Thursday and I am more excited than I possibly have been in my life. Spain + spanish people + pomegranates + spinning + tinto de verano = one ecstatic Clare. Updates on my new amazing Parisian life when I return, that is if I don't decide to stay. Tehe.

Un besote.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Diaries of a Parisian Office Worker: A week of highlights

After this week's two bank holidays I have decided that bank holidays are my favourite kind of day and would kindly appreciate it if who ever is in charge of setting the working calendar could see fit to give us two bank holidays every week. If you know who that person is, please direct them to this post. This short working week did however mean that there were only 3 possible days that I could photograph my work outfit, and given I'm struggling to do it once in a 5-day week, this was basically doomed from the start, so instead here is today's fruit-buying outfit (I like to try and look my best for the market sellers, maybe they'll give me some free fruit).

After a fabulous weekend with Gwen dining in some of Paris' top venues (namely La Durée, le Paradis du Fruit and my balcony) and strolling/bussing casually through la ville, this week had a lot to live up to. Monday's highlight was crying in front of my boss (people leaving me in Paris brings out my emotional side) which of course is always fun, especially when the reply is "you're 21, you need to harden up". In fact Monday was extra special and had 2 highlights, the second one being a bird pooing on my hand and bag. Tuesday's highlight was thanking my lucky stars it was only my hand the buggar pooed on as I watched Other Irish Intern have one poo on her hair. I'd rather like to think my racing to the nearest café to get some serviettes saved the day. I also think we've had enough of words containing poo for one post.

The obvious highlight of Wednesday and Thursday was not going to work and enjoying a lie-in until 9.30 (not loving my body clock rn), and Friday's was being greeted by a fully frontal naked Japanese woman as I walked into the gym changing rooms. That is not a mental image I wished to have but one that a lot of my fellow gym goers seem intent on providing me with. Finally today (skipping saturday because it was non-eventful), I somehow ended up with eye-liner lead on the bottom of my shorts and managed to draw some sort of charcoal design over my bedsheets with my ass. I think this is a skill that should go on my CV. 

And with that new-found talent I shall love and leave you. My alarm will be ringing in 8 hours and I'm already reaching for the snooze button.


Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Diaries of a Parisian Office Worker: Pyjama Day.

Happy Labour Day. Whilst my Spanish amigos have been out protesting for workers' rights, you can tell from today's outfit that I have been doing no such thing. This photo was taken at approximately 16h30 and I am not ashamed (although maybe I should be given I actually went out to the ATM in them?).  Pretty sure whoever came up with the concept of bank holidays meant for them to be pyjama days anyway, surtout quand il pleut dehors.

The day has not however been wasted. I am now up-to-date with Home and Away and Mad Men and getting there with Coronation Street (don't judge me, especially if you watch Made in Chelsea). I have also read and understood my french bank account details, tidied my handbags (yes plural) and organised my paper work #she'slivin'lavidaloca.

So as not to completely miss out on the fact that this pyjama day is being spent in France, I decided to put NRJ Hits on my TV to get a feel for French music (after 2 months it's about time, no?). Relatively bad idea. Aside from watching French men dressed up as Robin Hood dancing to what was essentially an Irish Jig and Justin Bieber singing into a headpiece that looks like a giant black golf ball stuck in front of his mouth, I discovered that I can put a name to the face of each member of One Direction (oh no) and will probably have nightmares for a week after seeing PSY's new video. In all seriousness, how is he even successful? I may spend my Sh'bam classes dancing to Gangnam Style like a pony on its hind legs but I was almost sick watching this. Like actually, this surpasses my hate for Mr Chow in the Hangover, and anyone who has watched that film with me knows that that is quite a strong hatred. Although just to balance out this negativity a little bit, below is a link for a pretty fabulous little song I did hear today. French music isn't all horrific. Although speaking of horrific, Cher Lloyd is now on my screen so we will move swiftly on before any positivity is lost...

My french may still not be improving perhaps as much as I would like, but I was reassured about my English this week (an actual slight worry for year abroad students) by an Israeli customer. First of all he walked into the office and greeted us with a 'Hey, what's up?" and then asked where I was from (he couldn't understand when I said "eight"until I said it like 'eeyytt'). Obviously I told him Northern Ireland (resisted adding in a 'hi lawd' at the end) to which he replied, "Oh. Your English is pretty good". Gee thanks. The amount of people I have met this year who ask what language we speak in (Northern) Ireland is ridiculous, so everyone, take note now. WE SPEAK ENGLISH.

And on that informative note today's blog ends here. Mama bear is making an appearance in Paris this weekend so unless something drastic happens to me tomorrow that I simply have to write about (although let's really hope that it doesn't), I will be back next week. Bonne fin de semaine et bon weekend à tous.


Saturday, 27 April 2013

Clarabella Speaks: Pimp my Intern.

Guess who's back, back it's not Shady it's me, and I'm writing to you from my NEW FLAT with BALCONY and FRENCH FLATMATES. Guess I finally got that flat with the rooftop view of Paris I always wanted! I was planning to still be asleep at this time but alas my body clock no longer understands the concept of a lie-in so what better way to pass the time than writing my first blog in over 3 weeks. Those 3 weeks have been ajetreadisimas and so I have not been doing a good job of documenting my daily outfits which really is a shame because my outfits this week were totally fabulous but I guess now I can re-wear them without fear of judgement. The following is my last photo in my old studio *sob sob the memories*, which reminds me, now that I no longer live in a studio I'm gonna have to think of a new name for studio style. Will add that to the blog to-do list which also includes work out a way to get rid of camera-face (harder than you'd think).

So what have I been doing over the past 3 weeks you may wonder. Well being pimped out for one thing.  Before you choke on your tea (if you're British and reading this chances are there is a cup of tea near by you, don't deny it) let me explain. We had some important clients (it already sounds bad), it was their last night out and it was decided that some girls were needed. When I say girls I mean me and the other intern. So at first we were all excited because we got a night out on the company in a fancy club, then we asked what our dress code was and the response was "sexy". Joderrrr. I don't think I have ever dressed sexy in my life, I can barely even say the work without cringing so that was going to be fun. I eventually settled on a black dress and and heels, with BARE LEGS, which consequently led to the worst metro journey of my life. It was raining outside, so there I was walking through the streets alone in bare legs with a scarf over my head as an umbrella, looking like an absolute twat, and then when I got onto the metro I was greeted by the judgemental stares of anyone over the age of 40. I had to sit down and cover my legs with my scarf out of sheer embarrassment. I'm telling you, I have a newfound respect for street walkers. Thankfully that was the worst part of the night and our biggest problem after that was having to take a shot of Hennessy XO whilst balancing our champagne in the other hand, which, might I add, was topped up constantly by a leather kilt-wearing barman. Marc Jacobs may be a fan of such an outfit, but it will never be okay.

Other than that slightly interesting acontecimiento, I HAVE GOT A NEW PASSPORT. It is however Irish, and I'm still not sure how I feel about my new found Irish nationality but then again it does mean I am not doomed to live out the rest of my days in France, nor pay any more visits to the British Consulate (touch wood) so I am not going to complain, nor bring it with me on a run. That lesson has been well and truly learnt, although most people would probably say that it shouldn't really have to be.

Further excitement includes cockroach-spotting in the office, almost having my precious Marc Jacobs bag sprayed with insect repellant (worse than a cockroach attack), more homeless appearances on the metro, deciding to walk 3 miles to Spanish then getting lost and arriving 30 minutes late, an exploding bottle of shower gel in my gym bag, and semi-cooked porridge that ended up more around the bowl than in it. C'est la vie as the French would say, and there's no point crying over spilt milk (ha).


Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Diary of a Parisian Office Worker: Embarrassed.

Keeping her short and sweet this evening as it is now 22h35 and I am taking yet another trip to the British Consulate tomorrow morning (before work) to get yet another emergency passport. Bet they've never had the same person come back for another one before, sort of hoping they don't recognise me. I'll be in a red suit (love my life) so fingers crossed that will be a good disguise.

My main reason for writing this evening is because the past 9 hours have given me plenty to write about. I was feeling pretty crazy at lunchtime so I thought I'd be adventurous and try eating something other than scrambled eggs and chorizo. I decided on a tuna salad, but the blood pouring from my finger 2 minutes later told me that maybe that wasn't such a good idea. The tuna was obviously not impressed at being eaten and I ended up slicing my poor little finger on the tin lid. I'm not even being dramatic when I say slicing, it was a good 5 mm deep and the first plaster had to be discarded after 5 minutitos. Think I'll stick to eggs in future.

After lunch I got to go on a little trip to the Arc de Triomphe which was fun. It was all going swimmingly until I managed to get lost in the metro station. It's not even as if I got on the wrong line or missed my stop, I was literally walking in circles trying to find the train. Mid-confusion I came across a vending machine so decided to stop for a bottle of diet coke for some refreshment. That however turned out to be another one of my not so good ideas when I ended up opening it too soon and getting fizz all over my arm. I just ignored the looks from the other metro goers and carried on as if I meant for it to happen. Sticky arms are the latest accessory did you not know?

But the most embarrassing is yet to come. Tonight was my second spanish class and I arrived to discover we were having a mini party. Thought I'd stay off the vino, even if it was from Bordeaux, and I still had half a bottle of now fizz-less coke in my bag so I whipped that out. 2 hours later I went to the bathroom before going home to discover that the lipstick that had been on my lips before the class was now in a semi-circle above my lips. I wasn't sure how long I had been sat looking like that but I finished my coke after about 30 minutes so the chances are it was more or less the whole 2 hours. And oh no. I've literally just remembered that one of the women kept looking at me during the class and smiling. I thought she was being nice but now I know. #thisisworsethanawkward. 

Besitos guapos. 

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Diary of a Parisian Office Worker: Field Day.

"You're having a field day with your earrings today". My 'bin lids' as an airport security worker so kindly named them one day are not generally the object of many people's affection (my own excluded), so that greeting from my boss this morning sent many things running through my mind, namely "oh no". Then he said "they're great, I like your earrings and I like your shoes". Well I was not expecting that! Normally when a man (over the age of 30) appreciates my style it is normally Karl and it normally scares me and makes me want to run and change, but my bin lids are my babies and ain't no-one gon' put me off them, even though you probs think someone should...

Ooooh and as if I almost forgot. Was feeling super chic on Saturday so thought I'd capture the moment to share it con todos. I'm just so thoughtful really.

This morning I sent mi hermana un whatsapp saying "trop nirn. Donr wanna. Fer y". She definitely thought I had taken friday's fiestaaaa comment to the extreme but in fact yesterday was spent tranquilamente under the sun eating lots of nice food in Place des Vosges and what I was trying to say was my weekend was "trop bien" and "I don't want to get up". Turns out whatsapping whilst still asleep doesn't really work. I did however have two nights out in a row this weekend which is almost unheard of in my normal life, never mind my life in Paris, so I'm totally feeling popular right now and lamenting the fact that work is an actual thing.

Went to the gym ce soir and was definitely close to death, it felt so good. I then had a mini drama, obviously. Tried to open my locker and the key card was not working. I was sure it was number 311 but after repeatedly trying it and then spending ages trying to open all the lockers in the vicinity, it really wasn't happening. "Mais j'en suis sûre" I told the french woman trying to help me. I was imagining my bag and all its contents being lost to the dark depths of the locker for eternity, then she tried 307 and turns out I wasn't so sure after all. I may have been slightly red-faced, but what's a little embarrassment when yet more important belongings are at risk?

Today's main drama however, came in the exhaustion of my pomegranate supplies. There could literally be no bigger food crisis. Thankfully I am going to Londres this weekend, where apart from spending some quality best friend time, I intend on stocking up on affordable pomegranates. Given this is my last trip to the UK before June that will be one hell of a lot of pomegranates to fit in my hand luggage, can't wait to see the look on the security guards' faces as that passes through the scanner...


Friday, 29 March 2013

Diary of a Parisian Office Worker: Good Friday?

The fact that I am spending my Friday night blogging and listening to Bonnie Tyler probably makes you wish you were me, so sorry for rubbing it in your life is crazy quoi. En fait this is not what I wore today rather on Wednesday, but I had literally the most loca day ever (more on that later) so there was malheureusement no time for pre-work photo-shoots. Must give a little shout out to a miss Rachael Jade Griffith for providing the dress, having a best friend who works in RI has its benefits.

So on my run last night I had a moment where I almost liked Paris. Pretty big breakthrough I thought, but it turns out Paris had other plans and today tried its very best to rid me of such thoughts. First there came another Eiffel Tower fiasco. After me swearing less than a month ago that I would never go near the place again I headed off this morning on a deceptively sunny Parisian morning to queue for tickets for clients. I arrived to the messiest and possibly longest queue I had ever seen and had to do my best not to turn and run. However I had my i-Pod and there was Spanish being spoken everywhere I turned so it wasn't looking too bad. Until that is, I realised how actually freezing it was and that I had forgotten my gloves. 30 minutes later and I couldn't feel my toes or fingers, but I only had about 30-45 more minutes to go so it was survivable. 60 minutes later and with NO sign of the clients I was colder than an ice sculpture and highly unamused. Turns out I queued for 90+ minutes for nothing other than the good of my health, which was no good at all. Señor Eiffel Tower and I are well and truly over this time, there is no going back from this one.

THEN, (yes there is more) I returned home at 6pm after a horribly long and stressful day (it got worse after the morning's fiasco), to find that the flat viewing I had lined up was, in fact, cancelled because the room had already been taken. Good Friday it was definitely not.

Happily though, this is where today's sob story ends because then I went to the gym. Obviously I was a little apprehensive after my previous gym experiences but the class was actually good (although not as good as Granada because nothing can beat Spain, obv), I met some actually friendly Parisians (I kid you not, they do exist) and spoke French. Et voilà I am now a member and Parisian life is on the up. You can tell this from the amount of French words making their way into tonight's blog #frenchmachine. There was a hairy moment in the metro when I couldn't find my i-Pod in my bag. Given my track record with gyms and losing things you can see why I almost ran back screaming onto the train, but thankfully it was just hiding under my towel and my heart palpitations could stop. Now all that's left to do is enjoy a 3 day weekend. Fiestaaaaaaaa.


Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Diary of a Parisian Office Worker: #firstworldproblems

Believe it or not I have literally not stopped since my last post. You probably still wouldn't swap your own social life for mine, but the prospect is no longer quite so horrifying. In that time I have also managed to acquire some exciting new additions to my wardrobe. They have yet to make their debut but when they too they won't be too hard to spot given I'd pretty much worn everything else to exhaustion. Apparently you can have too much of a good thing.

Good news is that my boss is back and he doesn't think my lace trousers look like army pants, hurrah. He also brought us back some sort of indian dessert which was basically like eating nutmeg flavoured, hay-like candy floss. It may sound odd but the other Irish intern and I did a pretty good job of polishing it off. Maybe it's because we're (Northern) Irish that we enjoyed eating hay... there's probably some awful stereotype joke about that somewhere so I thought I'd put it out there first.

I started writing this at 20h00, then mama dearest face timed and well here we are 2 hours later and no further on. We have however just set out a plan for my life in Paris to avoid further social exclusion, so I am starting Spanish lessons tomorrow and finding myself a French boyfriend (Karl says I don't have to be fussy because I'm only here for 6 months, it's good to see he has high hopes for me). Obv will keep you posted on how that turns out but I won't hold my breath as I would almost certainly die.

In other news my French is quite possibly getting worse and I could well be homeless again if people don't start replying to my emails (that is if my neighbours don't complain about me belting out Natalie Imbruglia at the top of my voice and get me evicted first). I came back from a weekend in Bordeaux thinking only positive thoughts, but that lasted until I got within about 15 minutes of Paris and hasn't really resurfaced since. First world problems are a bit of a nightmare really.


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Diary of a Parisian Office Worker: 20/08/1926 - 11/03/2013

When I went to work this morning I thought the subject of this evening's blog was going to be the ruddy snow that had decided to fall in March and how it had forced me change my choice of shoe. Then I got a phone call from home to tell me that my Grandad had passed away last night and suddenly I couldn't care less if it was Antarctica outside and I had been forced to wear snowboots. I wasn't sure whether or not to write this given grief isn't the kind of thing you like to share with people but I've become quite accustomed to sharing the ups and (mostly) downs of Parisian life so it seems like the natural thing to do, especially being so far away from everyone. So I guess this is just like my own little tribute to the man who did everything with his family's best interests in mind and who taught Karlos, or Richard as he called him, to do the same.

Grandparents always tell you how proud they are of you, but I was proud to be Alfred Gordon Saunders' granddaughter. Up until recent years you wouldn't have believed he was in his 80s, out digging up the garden or spinning around Rotherham in his impeccable automobile, and he had an incredible mind.  He also had a pretty impressive geography of Wednesbury and the Black Country, which is something the rest of our family now possesses after several repeated conversations. But more importantly he was a humble, loving and honourable father, husband, grandad and man, who was respected and loved by us all and who is already missed more than these slightly soppy words can express.

A wonderful friend told me to smile at the memories, so that's what I will do (when laughing doesn't turn to crying), and it's not hard to do when you can think back to being welcomed to Pakistan whilst driving through the outer areas of Sheffield; to having "have you ever seen a dream walking?" sung to you when you came down for breakfast at any time of the day; or to being congratulated for being astute enough to recognise the test he set you when it was blatantly a mistake he was trying to cover up. So I will listen to 'All you need is love" by the Beatles and hear him bra-ba-da-ba-da-ing the trumpet part, taste the hairspray on my tongue from the extreme coiffing before leaving the house and be glad that I had such a fabulous Grandad for the first 21 years of my life.

Un beso muy grande.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Diary of a Parisian Office Worker: #selfie

It suddenly dawned on me today when I was looking through my iPhoto library that I am quickly becoming some sort of serial mirror-selfie poser. Approximately one month ago I would have rather eaten an entire Marks & Spencer's carrot cake than take, never mind post, a mirror-selfie so this realisation is bothering me greatly. However pour le moment there's nothing I can do to avoid this (except not posting, but what would I do with my evenings then?) so basc just do not judge me, I am ashamed enough already. Although as if to disprove this, here is today's selfie pose.

I was feeling super business-woman like with my choice of outfit, very professional I thought. Turns out not everyone appreciated it. So I had to go to on a hotel outing and when I arrived back to the office I was greeted with "you wore that to the hotel?". Err, yes? There had been no mention of the red suit and there was no way in hell I was bringing it up, so I figured I was free to wear what I want, and figured a pair of dressy, lacey trousers would be a good choice. Except that to a non-fashion conscious male they look like some species of camouflage army trousers and so he did not share this opinion. Not amused. 

And you'll never guess what I saw in the office today: identical pink flower branches. Talk about making me feel cheap. Incase you're wondering electrician guy lives in the same courtyard and apparently also fixes work's sockets so it's not as weird as it would appear without this explanation. 

Other than that, today's excitement consists of a now burst blister (this occurred mid-run which really wasn't ideal) and me finding my post box. I did attempt to find it on Saturday and I did find it a bit odd that my key didn't even fit into any of the locks, never mind opening them, but as it would turn out that was because I was using the wrong key. It only took about 30 attempts today and thankfully no-one came and asked me what I was doing trying to open their post-box, so I am now the proud owner of box 43. Oh emm gee it's so exciting.


Sunday, 10 March 2013

Diary of a Parisian Office Worker: Loca

Relatively busy weekend, not really doing much but at the same time having an actual life (as untrue as this will seem as you read on) so hence I'm only posting friday's update now. Went a bit crazy with the camera angles (camera-face method is proving quite difficult at times so might have to research new options)  so you might need to cock your head a little, but the majority of us have the head tilt pose down to a tee so this shouldn't pose any problems.

Turns out I didn't actually make it shopping this weekend so unfort no new bling to unveil this week. In fact I only ventured outside of the flat to go out el viernes and to go running, and so now as I write, I am sat soaking my feet in a lettuce-spinner (I had nothing bigger) full of hot soapy water because the poor soles (ha) are all blistered. 2 x 4.5 mile runs in 2 days without coming close to dying is reassuring me that I have not yet lost my fitness but I think my feet would prefer it if I had.

Made a new friend yesterday, a greek electrician who lives opposite and came to fix my sockets. I greeted him at the door at 10 am in my pyjamas and looking scary as hell after 4 hours sleep, yet when he was finished he returned with a branch (literally) covered in pink flowers in a little vase of water "it's company for you because you're on your own". Fml if ever there was a social rock bottom I think this may be it. It was however sort of sweet, and even though he had previously told me I ate too much for breakfast (fruit and wheaten bread is definitely not too much) I smiled and said thanks. He also left me a cube of restaurant sugar because when I presented him with his milk-but-no-sugar tea he took one sip, winced mid-swallow and set it back on the table. Talk about hurting my feelings.

Weekends are too short and 8 am on Monday morning comes around quicker than it should so je vais love and leave you all and continue to soak my feet whilst watching 101 Dalmations. It would be a lie to say it beats the Marc Jacobs bag, but it's definitely up there on the birthday present list. Possibly the world's worst 21 year old.


Thursday, 7 March 2013

Diary of a Parisian Office Worker: Wow

Bonsoir mes cheries. You were almost lucky enough to have two studio style photos this evening, but then I decided you've seen the red suit once, there is no need for you to see it again. So here you have just the one standard camera-face photo, and a noticeable lack of accessories. TGIF tomorrow - I'll blow my hostess wages at the weekend and show you ma new bling next week.

Exciting progress today. Not only did I avoid major disaster (other than messing up my computer screen yet again and eating an almost entire pack of jaffa cakes), I actually impressed my boss. He said, and I quote, "Wow"! Say what now? Turns out A-level maths was actually useful for something in the real world, contrary to everything we said in class to make ourselves feel better for not having a clue. It may have been a relatively simple calculation, but the fact remains that I am no longer just the northern irish girl who says her vowels funny; apparently there only exist 3 vowels in my english - eeii, oouu and aaee - but what I don't get is how a Greek man can make fun of my accent?! Hashtag rude.

There was definitely more but my brain is too tired to think. There was literally nobody on the streets of Paris when I went out this morning which tells you something about what sort of ridiculous waking hour it was. I was even wapping someone in South America who hadn't gone to bed on Wednesday and there I was living it up on Thursday travelling across Paris in my red uniform. For this reason I will be in bed and asleep before 9.30, hard lad 2k13 hi.

P.S. for those who noticed Tuesday's grammar error, I hereby apologise for any offence caused. It is in fact 'consist of' and not 'consist in'. I am quite excited though because that was a error in English caused by thinking in Spanish and not the other way round. I may be living in Paris but my heart still lies in Spain. Os quiero!

Un besote

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Diary of a Parisian Office Worker: A pomegranate a day keeps the drama away.

Yet another drama free day! Hell to the yes. Although to be fair, when I started the day with my first bowl of pomegranates in 3 weeks it could only be good. I may have gone into work this morning with said bowl of pomegranates in tow and breakfasted in the middle of reading last night's emails, but that was only because I spent a lil' extra time on today's outfit choice. If you don't think it shows just keep that to yourself.

I'm starting to notice the results of my aversion to buying accessories so might have to take a little trip to Zara soon. My feet are also starting to notice the effects of 3 consecutive heel-wearing days, but they're just going to have to lump it because I'm having too much fun playing grown-up!

I also have exciting news: this evening I met two actual French people and spoke actual French that consisted in more than "je vais vous passer à mon collègue". A fair percentage of this 'French' may have been spanish, but at least I've got one language down, and the resemblance of a social life.

Hate to break it to y'all but that is all for tonight because lucky me has a gruelling 4.30 am start for a hostess job (no, not that type of hostess). The wonderful suit is hanging staring at me and both my alarm clocks - the office insisted in giving me a second one for some reason - are set. Bit nerveuse, but I am getting paid almost 2 days wages so one must not complain (don't get excited, I earn 3 euros an hour). Paris gets more glamorous by the day.


Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Diary of a Parisian Office Worker: Enfin une journée normale

I write this evening with, believe it or not, nothing to report. No your eyes aren't deceiving you, there actually are no new additions to the what-disastrous-thing-can-Clare-do-today list. The biggest problem I've had to deal with today is the definite beginnings of a double chin. This could become problematic, but hopefully my homemade gym, which includes stair box-steps and fabric conditioner bottle weights, will put an end to that. Thankfully having a camera for a face means you're not going to be able to notice it. 

I'm off out to inspect the nocturnal safety rating of a potential flat location (a definite must) and then for coffee with a friend, it almost sounds like I've got a social life. Here's hoping for no more metro detours.


Monday, 4 March 2013

Diary of a Parisian Office Worker: día tres.

Studio style is back for its 3rd day, wheyyyy. It hasn't gone un-realised that I did not post on Friday, but I'm not prepared for that photo to hit the internet and you're not missing anything - Karl's "do you ever dress up for work?" comment should say it all. So instead here is today's, complete with a different pair of shoes (yes it's true) but slightly lacking in quality due to the fact this morning's photo shoot occurred at 09.29. I was going to take a better one when I got home but by the time I remembered this I was already in my Harvard (#namedrop) hoodie and slippers, and there was no way I was getting dressed again.

So today's 'what-disastrous-thing-can-Clare-do-today' incident (previous days' include losing my passport and almost destroying a very important piece of artwork) came in the form of me managing to turn my whole computer screen upside down whilst searching for damn accents on the keyboard. Turns out ctrl+alt+125 does not do the same thing on french computers as it does on Durham's. Even the mouse movements were backwards, and when it didn't automatically fix itself after the standard re-boot procedure I thought I was going to have to admit what I had done and add something else to the 'list of reasons to ridicule Clare'. Thankfully the computer behind me was free and after 10 minutes of FML-ing and google searching I managed to resolve it before anyone returned to the office. Bam. Totes inherited Karl's IT genius.

Other than that today has gone swimmingly. I will however take note for the next time I wear heels to the office, that if I have to go half way across Paris for any reason it would be a good idea to change to flats before hand. Yeah sure I looked class waltzing through the streets in my heels and sunglasses (I kid you not it was actually sunny), but man alive did my feet suffer for said vanity. 

It does not end here on this fine Monday night, obv there is birthday-weekend drama to report. Gwen arrived here on Friday evening claiming someone had tried to rob her iPhone on the metro. Defs thought she was being a tad dramatic (I should stop doing that) until someone actually did rob sistah's iPhone in a photo-stop-harassment episode that, por suerte, ended in the little thief handing it back to her, probably because the boy who stole it thought Karlos would beat him up. Little did he know I'm the one in our family with muscles to kill. Two attempted robberies down, there was inevitably going to be a third, but this one was quite funny. So we go to a fab restaurant because obv I want to celebrate my 21st in style. We're all loving life until Gwen's steak turns out to be pretty much a lump of gristle and she can't eat it. She sends it back, it's too late to get something else but that's fine, she waits for dessert and we get cocktails (couldn't handle any more sugar after Angelina's sugar-coma-inducing feast) while Karl has the world's best sorbet. We go to pay, and the very attractive french waiter (it was basically the Hollister of the food industry) brings the bill and announces, in his wonderful french-english accent "finally we offer you your dessert". So wait, they expect us to pay 40 € for an inedible piece of steak but thank them for giving us a 12 € dessert for free?! Qué va. Needless to say Rose and I made a swift exit to avoid the slight awkwardness of the following conversation, but Gwen emerged victorious with the 28€ difference in tact. Moral of the story: don't try anything funny with the Saunders' innit. 

I had another story to tell, but I fear this is a rather long post so I will shorten it. Basically, the Eiffel Tower is the latest addition to my 'Paris Most Hated' list (other places include the Louvre and Versailles). 2 hours of queueing in the freezing cold to get 280m high and see practically nothing because although there were clear blue skies it was hazy as hell, does not make for a happy Clare. In fact it made for angry Clare (then emotional Clare, #awkward). If anyone comes to visit me you can go up it alone because I have vowed never to do it again. 

And with that happy note I will love and leave you. I'm off to raid my belongings to make make-shift weights and then burn off the what-feels-like-2-stone-in-fat I've put on since Friday. Thank heavens you're only 21 once.


Thursday, 28 February 2013

Diary of a Parisian Office Worker: Jour Deux.

I wasn’t convinced that studio style was going to happen today given I have to be in at 9.30 for the next 4 weeks, *gasp* but this morning’s photo shoot happened a whole 15 minutes before I had to leave wahey! Other than the fact that I live next door and so being late would really be ridiculous, I really couldn’t be late because now I have a key. Given my colleague is aware of my passport fiasco, and the fact that I was 15 minutes over my lunch break on Tuesday because I was searching for my flat keys (they were in the middle of a pile of sheets of all places), I think if there had been any other way he would not have given me such responsibility, but one day in and all is still well.

Went for a bit of a risky combo today with the shorts. Wasn’t sure how office appropriate shorts were, but nothing was said so I’ll take that as an OK. In fact I think the only person they bothered was me, especially after lunch when breathing was restricted. The french feeling of queuing in la boulangerie to buy my baguette was not worth the fat feeling that came as a result. 

There was more excitement in the office today - we were invited to an art exhibition opening in the Navy Museum. Normally I hate museums but I didn’t have to wear the suit so I figured I’d make the most of the perks of the job. It was all going well (I almost felt like I had a social life again) until I tripped over a protruding lower part of a wall and ended up stopping my fall by slapping my hand right onto the hanging tapestry that was the room’s main attraction. The “attention s’il vous plaît” from the staff told me it hadn’t gone unnoticed. All I can say is thank goodness it wasn’t a canvas otherwise there would now be a gaping hand-shaped hole in the middle of it. 

Given that my day started with my cream cheese falling out of the fridge and landing face down on the floor (minus lid), I did not have high hopes for the rest of it, but it’s 23.00 hours local time and I’m still here, along with everything I started the day with. The rest of la famille Saunders arrives in Paris tomorrow evening and I turn 21 on Saturday, so things are looking good. Nonetheless I will stay well away from the edge of the Eiffel Tower when we go up it as part of my celebratory itinerary, at such heights there are simply too many things that could go wrong.


Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Diary of a Parisian Office Worker: What can go wrong today?

So guess who's got this whole getting up on time thing down. Admittedly taking photos of myself at 9.56 and still arriving at work before 10 is a privilege I will only enjoy for a month, but it's a start. Haven't worked out what to do with my face yet (it would be a bit awkward to pose) so for now it's half camera.

Had I known that my other moccasin was not in sis's room in Cambridge but in fact hiding at the bottom of suitcase, they would have been my shoe of choice, but alas I did not know this and so I was stuck with the only office suitable pair of shoes available to me. Also, I may have a washing machine (although I'm not sure for how much longer given the noises coming from it rn) but I don't have an iron, which it turns out is pretty essential when your clothes have spent a sustained amount of time in a suitcase and you work in an office, so you may see this top a lot. 

Incase you were wondering what else is going on in my Paris saga, I can tell you that I did in fact make it unscathed to spinning this evening. It wasn't great and I'm not convinced I'm going back but that's okay, it was a free class. Even had a nice wee trip into the police station to make my 'declaration de perte' so next stop is the Consulate. Bet all those people who manage to keep hold of their passport don't know where that is so look who's laughing now. I did however manage to take another tour of the Parisian metro on my way home (I thought I was on line 6 but turns out I wasn't), and to my delight the only station I could change in was possibly the largest in the whole metro system. Probably could have walked home the length of time it took to get from one train to another, and hence the supermarket was closed when I walked past. Luckily I have a bowl full of oranges above the fridge, even if there is very little inside it.

Oh and big excitement today. I got to go to the Hotel de Crillon. She's living the Parisian dream finally you might think. Now have a look at what I had to wear, and think again. 

The boots just make it don't you think? Like i said, they were the only office appropriate shoes to hand, possibly not Hotel de Crillon worthy, "She'll do fine" were my bosses exact words. FINE?! Defs going to have to go all out on the fashion front once I get supplies from home, as well as new shoes, to show them I do know how to dress. The metro goers may also need convincing of this fact after my second homeless appearance in 3 days tonight. It was made even better by the addition of my handbag into the christmas jumper-leggings-trainer mix (I couldn't risk my driving license falling from my pocket tonight). Look out for me on Paris Street Style blogs. 


Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Diary of a Parisian Office Worker

So given I'm now living in gay Paree I thought it would be an ideal time to revive Clarabella after a somewhat quiet 7 months, and so I present Clarabella: The Diary of a Parisian Office Worker. The idea was (and still is) to do my own little series of studio style (the less cool version of street style) on the outfits I wear to work in my chic little Parisian office every day. However, given my semi-homeless status until this morning, and the fact that I simply have not yet figured out this whole getting-up-early-enough-to-take-a-photo-of-myself thing (something I would normally avoid especially so early in the day), there are currently no photos, and so instead this evening's blog will serve as a stage for me to lament my first unfortunately eventful week in France. I hope it amuses you.

So I arrived here on Tuesday, after a Eurostar journey beside a crazy french/english woman. In hindsight I should have taken that as a sign of things to come and got on the first flight back to my beloved Spain. Everything was going okay, I was living in a hotel because getting used to French life was going to be difficult enough without living in a hostel, and on the first day I walked 8 miles without getting lost and I even had to take off my scarf it was that not-cold. The 20 degrees I left in Granada didn't seem too out-of-reach. However disaster struck on friday when it started to snow. Yes snow. I was most unamused, especially as I had had to leave my hoodie, dressing gown and blanket in Spain due to small-case syndrome (probably should have sacrificed some shorts instead). Oh and this wasn't before a mouse ran across the floor (and dangerously close to our feet) of the restaurant we were dining in.

Still living in a hotel at this stage, but things were on the up when I arranged to meet a potential landlady who was exchanging a room for babysitting. This is exciting I naively thought, thinking I would get to speak french and live in a family's apartment, hence avoiding tiny and possibly messy student flats. My mother warned me they could be some sort of french Vonn Trap family. Don't be silly I told her. She wasn't being silly. I arrived at the flat to find 2 young kids and i thought to myself, slightly crazy but I could totally deal with this, then la maman said "I have 3 older kids too". 'Joderrrrr' I thought to myself, 'Gwen was right'. Needless to say I didn't take the room, esp when I discovered it was not in the flat, but in fact on the 7th floor, and about the size of a child's play shed.

Things calmed down for 24 hours. I met a Durham friend in the street who invited me for lunch with her dad, I started work and didn't get fired, and signed a month-long contract for my boss's studio (nb he doesn't live here too). I was even going to go to the gym and rekindle my love with the spinning bike. So last night I set off in my gym gear with my christmas jumper over the top because it's so cold, looking like I could have been homeless except for the fact that I had my debit card ready to pay 60 euro for a month long gym membership. However Paris had other plans, and it turned out the gym membership was actually 120€ for the month, which is more than I paid for 3 months in Granada. As dying as I was to go (my name's Clare and I'm possibly a gym addict) common sense prevailed and I headed off back to the metro station I had got off at. Except I didn't. Clever me walked the wrong direction and ended up at a different metro on a different line. Lazy me figured that given I was going to have to change either way, I'd take a little trip around Paris to end up on the closest line to home (still the hotel) to avoid walking in the sleet, which was, I think, a perfectly legitimate reason. Approximately 20 stops and 1 change later I was back, I booked a trial class at a different gym for tomorrow (today), packed for the 3rd time in 9 days and went to bed.

Life was on the up. I survived another day at work. I ate my first bowl of fruit in almost two weeks in my wonderful kitchen with actual cooking stuff, and I was going spinning. But as it would turn out, I wasn't. I had 20 minutes to walk a little over a mile to the gym, so I figured I'd run as a way to keep warm (left the homeless christmas jumper at home tonight) and arrive sooner (did not want to miss out on getting a bike). Turns out this was not a good decision and somewhere along the way my passport which was in my pocket (I needed ID for the gym) fell out. So not only was I late for the gym I was now passport-less and cold as I retraced my steps to find it but it was nowhere to be seen. Never has the phrase FML been so appropriate. THEN, my boss called in on his way out of the office (I live next door) to check I was getting on okay, and all I could see while I was talking to him was my bra lying on the sofa. Fab.

And so this takes us up to the current hour where I am sat, surrounded by cases and sheets and clothes and bags, writing my memoirs and lolling a little bit at my life. It's not all disastrous though, I've now got a washing machine, and I survived 3 phone calls with the French police so my french can't be that horrible. "Swings and Roundabouts" as mi mejor amiga would say.