Sunday, September 15, 2013

Broke and in Paris :(

A very handsome French man just came up to me and started speaking gibberish (also known as French) to me 
I said no French. 
He said: mademoiselle, you are very beautiful, do you live here? 
I said: no, just visiting. 
He: For long? 
I: A week. 
He then asked me for coffee. I declined as I was in a panic as I need to get to the US embassy and figure out my banking. A girl needs money for food and hotel while abroad if nothing else and I am running dangerously low like the equivalent of what $10 gets you in the US. Really not good. 

However after he left I checked my purse for my checkbook (not that it did me any good not working here) my passport and other ID and then I thought to myself, "wow, that would have been a nice under different circumstances,"  my second thought was, "he probably wanted to kidnap you."

I then headed to the US embassy to try and figure out why my bank card is not working in FRANCE, who the heck does that to a girl whom is traveling alone.  Locks up her bank care?  Big time bad, big time.  I was seriously freaking out as I had been in Paris for over 24 hours, almost 36 at this point and had VERY little money in the pocketbook. 

12 of Sept
I talked to the embassy, texted with my grandma, who thankfully is up at the crack of dawn also known as 5am and she was going to have my Aunt get me some money so that by the end of the day I had my budget of money for my trip and I would no longer have less money in my pocket than the man begging for change on the street. (Dear Readers- knowing that you are in a different country and have less money than the homeless man is not a good feeling.  It is scary.  It is embarrassing, I saved for a long time to be able to go on this trip and after all of that hard work- and I had the bruises and scratches to prove it was hard work, I was in Paris, one of the most magical cities and I was in essence, BROKE.) When I am back stateside, I will be having a VERY long chat with my bank about this.  One of the main reasons that I took my accounts there was because they did not charge international fees, which is easy to do if while you are on a trip you can't access your funds (the scoundrels!) they will be reimbursing me the fees to have the money wired to Paris.

The people at the US embassy in Paris are very nice, not one but two days the guards dealt with me very upset and sometimes crying (I was scared remember).  They were understanding and professional and most of all they were very helpful.  Marie in special services was a God send in helping me figure out HOW to get money from the US to Paris the least expensive and the more reliable way.

So after I picked up some money (yay no longer broke) I went back to my host's home.  We went to the gym (OMG it is the most amazing gym I have ever been too) it has a waterpark, a gym, classes, water classes, hot yoga, yada yada yada.  You can check out there site here.  Yes, it is AMAZING!  I was so lucky to be able to go here not one but TWO nights in a row.   After the waterpark and sauna, yes that's right this broke girl got to waste her stress away in a sauna, I don't even think I have access to one of those at home, we went to the Hippopotamus, I was told to order a steak, which was surprisingly inexpensive, like $18US.  It was ok.  My virgin drink however was to DIE for.  After dinner I took the Metro back to my host's home and they picked me up in a car to go to a latin dance club.  Yes, this very white girl went to the latin dance club.  Walking into this club I could hear the lady from the metro say "please beware of pickpockets" in my head.  It kinda looked like a sketchy area, but as soon as I saw the coat check I felt better.  I felt out of place, and self conscious because I had NO IDEA what I was doing, so I just sat and watched (it was an Erkle moment, anyone else have those?).  I have however decided that I would like to learn how to dance to this type of music, it is beautiful it is sensual and it is kinda amazing.  The plan was to stay for an hour- but like most good plans, we stayed much later, until about 1.15 am, and then the 25 minute drive back with laughs and some serious conversation, after getting back to the apartment I went straight to bed.  I was exhausted. In all honesty, way beyond exhausted and really needed some sleep.  My hosts were leaving for a flight in the am, so I had to wake up early and to check out the apartment I had rented for the remainder of my stay in Paris.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Iceland, Burberry, & tax free shopping

Dear Readers,
I am sitting here at the Iceland airport thankful that I even made it to this leg of my journey. As I was pulled by TSA for additional screening, like almost 45 minutes worth. I had made it to the airport with plenty of time, thanks to D. who drove me all the way out to Dulles but all that extra stuff can throw off plans really quick.

My flight took off around 21.00 EST and I landed around 6.00 on Sunday (sorry I don't even know what time zone I am even in.) We were told by the intercom system to wait in the lower level, so I did, then I was told they were closing lower level and to go upstairs. Where I met a really spectacular security guard with a sweet USMC tat on his form arm, so we chatted until the customs agent got away from his doughnut to interview & clear me through customs- which took about 30 minutes and I was the only one there! I swear I must be on a watch list of some sort, lol.

When I arrived upstairs not only did I locate my love, Mt.Dew, which looks totally different here, but I also came across tax & duty free designer shopping. Burberry, Dior, Chanel, you know. I looked at all of the beautiful things, had my heart a pitter-patter and came to sit down as I'm exhausted, an overnight flight with screaming, crying babies and children with loud parents will do that to a girl, even one with Dramamine, ear plugs and a sleep mask.

All in all, my flight here was pretty awesome. We had some good pilots who avoided the turbulence that other passengers were complaining about, and as far as an airport goes this one is great. The exchange rate isn't terrible and I'm looking forward to lunch, even tho it is only 9.06.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Business Set Up: Interviews & Founding Famers

Last time I came to visit D. and I tried to get in to eat at Founding Famers but it was a weekend at it was like a 3 hour wait or something obnoxious like that, so we went to find another place to eat but it was closed so finally we headed back to her apartment and had pizza or the like.  So we both knew that this trip we wanted me to experience the amazingness of Founding Famers, (see reviews and menu.)  So D. booked a reservation on Open Table, I did not want to miss this place although it may only be open for a New York minute.  Dearest readers, have you ever book marked or checked into a place so you can find it later only to discover that, it has already closed, you know a hot month or two after you were there last?  I have and it is so very sad.

We took the metro into DC, for those of you who don't know I LOVE riding the metro, most people don't feel the love from the DC metro system but I do!  It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy  and the
Metro train, orange line @ Foggy Bottom
fact that D's apartment is only a few city blocks away (great way to tone my calfs) only adds to my excitement, I (who lives in MN) even have the plastic DC commuter card, I carry it pretty much everywhere in my wallet.  I never know when I may need to whisk away to the city that has fashion, amazing food and is dripping in power (or people who think they are powerful and/or important but aren't.)  Like Big J. says, "if you are important you don't need to sit there and tell me that you're important," great life lesson readers.

Another life lesson readers is to not run around with your badge on while in DC-like this stranger does. It makes you look like an intern and it's not very safe security wise.  How likely is it that one would keep their job after loosing (or someone stealing) their badge that allows them access to their work while in DC in a city that almost every job comes with a badge? I have known staffers & magazine staff whom have gotten fired for this very reason, and with good cause.  I realize people think that their badge is a status symbol, and perhaps it is, but walking around with it out just isn't the greatest idea.

We arrive for our reservation, and the place looks like a ghost town, except for you know the well known actor in the corner upstairs, the member of the house that are having a powow, a few senate members, and one man I didn't actually need to run into.  Evidentially this is THE place to be at 9am. I order a ginger ale, now let me tell ya, this ginger ale is home made and it's $5 a glass its ahhhmazing.
So amazing that I thought about ordering a second, with no ice in a to go cup and spending way more money on my drink than on my food.  D. gets a dt. coke those of you that know her know this is her beverage of choice and she can often be found with it in her hand, the same could be said of me and Mt. Dew.  Our waiter is great, he takes our order for food and as we wait we scope out the place.  At this point I'm in a food heaven with the experience with my soda (D. likes it too), I'm

really not sure my food can top it... but then, it arrives. As you can see I ordered a waffle with strawberries and cream.  The waffle was crispy on the outside and soft on he inside, it was PERFECT.  D. and I wrapped up our eating adventure and I headed back to her apartment while she went to scope things out in the city.

So in this business adventure I need to do all of the normal business stuff: file the state docs, EIN, legal agreements, logo, website, etc.  However because this is for one of my dearest friends I of course am WAYYY more invested in her success, so two days ago we went to hold two interviews.

The first interview was with a zoo keeper, it was seriously on his resume.  I think they should have left him locked up with the baboons, this man had no class.  The interview didn't even start off well, I had emailed this man an address of a Starbucks to meet us at, he showed up at the wrong one, TWICE and it only got worse from there.  I mean absolutely very very bad.  Dear readers, I walked out of that interview impressed by how bad I felt about myself, this guy was amazing at backhanded compliments and inserting his foot into his mouth, all while this interviewee was hitting on my dear friend and staring at upper lady parts.  Hey buddy, our eyes are up here!  It took us a while on the ride home to discover what about him we didn't like, and when we pinpointed it the array of dislike spewed up like a fountain.  I think we both left that interview feeling like we needed a shower.

We arrived back to the apartment with enough time for me to rest and for D. to get ready.  For this second interview I decided to change just a bit.  We held the interview/ meeting with a prospective photographer, whose talents are unbelievable.  (I had already told him that he may need to RASISE HIS PRICES.)  I had also sent this man an address and when I called him to tell him we had arrived he said he was almost there, I got a bit nervous.  Could this one be as bad as the first?  If so I was going to want a drink and chocolate.  I ordered my drink (a mimosa) and we waited until he arrived, which was only a few minutes.  Let's be clear, this man followed directions, walked in with confidence and to the right place- he was already doing better than 90% of people I've interacted with at this point.  This photographer was hilarious, like my abs hurt yesterday kind of funny, we got so off topic my grandmother would have blushed.  This man beyond having a similar knack for child rearing as I do, shaking his head to the mom who was trying to reason with a 4 year old and saying, "it takes very little time to pretend like you actually care," and "your kid will get friends at school, what he needs is a parent," to D. and I he has also written a book that one day I hope he will allow me to purchase. "mmmmnnn honey that book is all to full for a good Christian girl like yourself," which made D. and I look at each other and laugh, and it made me seriously want to go and find to read on my 14 hour plane journey.  In the end, this man offered to walk us across the street back to D.'s apartment and wrote a very nice email to say that he had a nice time, well we did too and I hope to someday be able to meet him for a meal again, this time, I'll record it for my own personal enjoyment.

One of two, not a bad success rate, too bad I thought I had weeded out all of the real crazies. I will be setting up more meetings for tomorrow, Dear Lord, please give me some humor and remind me to wear really modest clothing.

Over and out.

Michael Kors & SAKS

So on Friday, I went to the VA SOS site only to find out that the site was down for maintenance, who does that on a holiday weekend?  Dear SOS, that was serious a bad life choice and I wasn't impressed so after a slight freak out I suggested that we go shopping, I mean after all I was in the shopping MECA of DC.  

Tysons, for those of you have never been, is like the 5th AVE of DC; you have Tiffany, Gucci, MK, well.... you get my point.  For those of you who don't know me well, I love shopping and I have a love for many designer things.  Big J. would say that you might as well go to Nordstroms or TJ Maxx and get the designer leather handbag that will last for 10+ years if cared for and make the investment of $300 than to buy a new handbag every year or season at Walmart, Vanity, or Herbergers, "buy quality, not quantity."  I'm going to upset some people back home with that comment, don't get me wrong, Herbergers has some nice stuff, but in the last year their quality in most things has gone down drastically, and their less expensive stuff is no longer made of materials that will stand the test of time.  Just ask my friend who purchased a $125 purse from them on sale only to find the handles were splitting from the purse with little in it over a period of a few months, I thought she was going to cry when she called me.  Sooo, we went shopping.  I always have a list of stuff in my phone that I am looking for, not that I need but WANTS, because let's be honest, I'm a nanny for now, I don't need designer anything.

And at SAKS on 5th (because on a nanny salary I don't dare buy from the real SAKS) I found something I have been searching for a few years for, a real leather (I don't like pleather, I grew up in the country) and knit coat by Michael Kors.  Remember I said I was in the shopping MECA of DC. It was gorgeous, upon seeing it I was saddened to find out that they didn't have my size on the rack, as I was looking for D. I found a "damaged" one on another rack, it has water spots on it and I beelined it for the dressing room, I mean faster than you can say "Bob's your uncle."  The ladies in the dressing rooms put me in the large one with the triple mirror, she must have known I needed to see where this coat hit me in the back.  After a very slow loading of Living Social's $20 for $40 deal, I had referred some deals to friends and had a credit (yay!). Because for those of your who don't know me well I like nice things, but it is very rare that I pay retail price for much, I may have designer shirts and I have quite a few (5 or 6) RL button ups but honestly, most of them were purchased in the Minneapolis area while I had an appointment or a meeting at the Goodwill for less than $10, like my Katie Young dress for $8.99.  

I had a long talk with D. about spending so much money on a coat, before a big trip I decided to purchase it- as after all, it was perfect, that is minus the water marks on the front, which I can take to cobbler in Willmar and have him remove for probably less than $30 and Macy's is still selling it right now for full retail value, no coupons accepted.  So I took my birthday money, (thanks Gram, mom & dad, and Uncle Dean) (because why not take birthday money and special earnings and buy an investment piece?) and some of my coupon savings cash (because I actually save 1/2 of my savings from coupons) and purchased this lovely coat.  And now that I have it I have been literally wearing it at night with my yoga pants when my body starts to get cold because I have been up for all too many hours working straight, but this coat, it puts a smile on my face and it's WARM.

Over and Out.