Friday, February 28, 2014

Watching Your Novellas


I don't watch a lot of tv but I will cut a bitch if I have to go without my weekly Bill Maher fix. I'm a politics junkie. Something about laying in bed on a Saturday morning listening to political squabbling and debate soothes me. I love politics, and I love watching a political correspondent bust out some obscure politcal figure while wishing I had such mad skills (how do they remember it all?).

One thing you will notice when you leave home if you're American/Canadian/British/Swedish is that you won't be able to use your Netflix account. That hating bitch will pop up on your screen and tell you "we're sorry we haven't come to your part of the world yet" and you'll curse the Netflix gods for not letting you watch Frank Underwood whoop a trick through political scheming and backhand deals (oh House of Cards how I love thee).

 
But where there's a will, there's a way and of course there's a quick little computer fix that will cure your tv withdrawals. 

You should probably be using a VPN anyway. Its good for masking your online presence and for hiding credit card info and that. When the Apple security fix drama went down I wasn't really worried (even though I had used public wifi from the US to Turkey to Europe) because I had been catching up on Orange is the New Black and was behind my VPN everytime I was online.



There are a number of services out there and you'll probably want to test which ones work best for what you're doing and where you're at. But in France HideMyAss works best for me. Here's the link: http://hidemyass.com/vpn/fNcIwJr I haven't tested it on the BBC iPlayer yet, but it works on Hulu, Netflix, HBOGo and My Time Warner Cable Huzzah! It's so nice having live telly from home. Mirror it with your AppleTv and it's just like you never left America. I won't miss any of what's going with Hannah and Adam and everything else on Girls (obsession). It also fools YouTube so you don't get that annoying country code message. So go forth and keep building that Netflix playlist. Don't miss out on your novellas just because you decided on a bit of travel. 



Thursday, February 27, 2014

Julien Benais


© Julien Benais

This asshole deserves a post all his own because it was the most bizarre, fucked up situation I have ever encountered that it's too much just to write a little blurb about it. And yes, I will name and shame a bitch. It's only libel or slander if it's false and there's intent of malice any way. In the wise words of the great philosopher Nicki Minaj "never let a clown ass nigga play you". And believe me this one needs to be put on blast. 

As I said when I first arrived in Paris I was trying to meet people through Craigslist. I wasn't really sure how to meet other English speakers and what better way than an English website? No. Don't use it. There are actual, less skeevey, sites that are made for just this purpose. 

Julien answered my ad but he wanted me to meet him in Montmartre where he lives, and I was a newbie to the city and had not learned the metro yet, so I declined. I was getting used to my tiny little neighborhood, I wasn't interested in getting lost in a different one.

I texted him about the second week into my trip and once again he was asking me to meet him in Montmartre. I told him why I wouldn't and we agreed to meet for lunch in the 8th. He works for a Texas based company oddly enough, and their located on Haussmann, so we agreed to meet at the St. Augustin Metro/Starbucks nearby. 

For some reason I woke up that morning in a brilliant mood. I had "Happy" stuck in my head, the sun was finally shinning, my neighbors probably had a good laugh at me dancing round in my underwear, I was sure it was going to be a brilliant day. Murphy's Law had nothing on me. Ugh I'm too much of an idealist sometimes.

I got there early so I went into the Starbucks and let him know. He showed up a few seconds later. He was completely unkempt and looked like he had just rolled out of bed. Not at all what I was expecting. And why lie about your age? Let me decide if I have a problem with it (I didn't). Why not just say I'm 40, and get on with it? Any how he said he was hungry and he wanted to go to a place down the street. I wasn't really hungry (I can't eat when I'm nervous), but I agreed.

We sat down and he started talking about himself. He hates Paris, he hates his job, he needs a vacation, and he can't wait to quit and move to Asia. It was a lot for a first meeting with someone. He didn't really ask me a whole lot about myself. And for some reason I wasn't as talkative and inquisitive as I usually am (probably because he found a way to bring every topic back to himself). He spent the whole lunch staring at himself in the mirror behind me and then chastised me for not paying him more attention.

To be honest I was really quite overwhelmed with it all. It was a lot of negativity for a first meeting. I guess kudos for being honest, but it was an onslaught of information for someone you've just met. I'm not saying someone should be fake but hating every aspect of your life? Does being a miserable cunt usually get a lot of men laid? You're not Woody Allen, it's not cute.

Afterwards he took me to a cafe a few blocks away. I was in heels and finally figured out why I should never wear them (cobbles are not your friend). I told him to slow down, but he had a total disregard, he just kept walking as fast as possible. When we got there he ordered two glasses of champagne, and with the way the date was going, I was happy to down it. 

He proceeded to tell me how much he hates America, which is fine, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but you probably shouldn't a) agree to go out with an American and then b) list off every reason for why their country sucks and what a shithole it is. Why agree to go out with someone if their citizenship bothers you that much? 

But that wasn't all, he hates everything; capitalism, France, my accent, the way I string words together, the way I incorrectly say French words. He kept mimicking the way I talked, because apparently I don't speak "correct English", I speak "American English". When ever I said anything he was dismissive, uninterested, or found a way to poke fun at it. Hate, hate, hate. It was an experience to say the least. 

Finally he took me to a taxi stand. He didn't really say bye to me, and he looked pissed when I tried to say goodbye, so I figured neither one of us had enjoyed meeting. I said "it's been real" and was happy to escape into the taxi. Good riddance to my first bad date.


After explaining to the cab driver as best I could, which wasn't good at all because he spoke no English and I no French, we started towards Saint Louis. About 3 minutes later I was getting texts from Julien. He was telling me to come back. I don't know quite why but I foolishly did. Maybe I hoped he was going to apologize for being a colossal asshole. Maybe I was being too harsh on him. I don't like dwelling on the negative in people. Maybe he has no filter? Perhaps it was the way we left things, I don't know. I can rationalize it, but I should have gone with my initial instinct and ignored his texts.

15 minutes later I ended up near his office building. I was buzzing from the champagne, exhausted from trying to explain to the cabbie what was happening, my feet hurt, and Julien's negativity was really draining. I was frazzled. 

I didn't see him outside so I texted him and he came out. He then told me to follow him across the street. I thought we were going to a cafe, but he took me to some building next door, then through a stairwell, and then pounced on me.

How do you go from not saying anything nice to someone to suddenly being all over them? I thought maybe he was just nervous? Or needed to learn that his behavior is considered rude? But at least he was in a better mood. He seemed much lighter and less depressing than when I had left him. He said a meeting with his boss had been cancelled so I thought maybe he had been in a snit over that and that's why he had been such a horrible twat. 

Maybe it was the champagne on an empty stomach, but while he was pawing me I could have sworn the word rape was thrown around once or twice, and call me crazy but that word does not get the panties wet with some dude I wasn't especially interested in fucking. I'm all for domination. I am a strong female personality, I don't back down, so I like someone who is equally as strong willed as I am, and while that's usually panty dropping, in this case it wasn't. 

He had spent the whole lunch showing zero interest in me and this odd little episode was not changing my mind just yet. If he had acted differently this little excursion would have been fun and I would have agreed to fuck him in every Parisian hallway if he had wanted. I mean I had agreed to meet him because he seemed like he'd be fun to play with. What can I say? I love cheeky men. But all of the running around and this sudden change in personality that I couldn't make sense of (it was just his second attempt at getting laid) made me anxious, and I said I had to go. I chalked up the horrid date to his dislike for his job and him not having had more than a few hours of sleep. 

Which is why when he asked to see me again, I agreed. We were texting later on that day and I began to think of it a bit differently. The change of events had intrigued me. But let's be real, I have the sexual appetite of a sex obsessed 15 year old boy, there's no shame in my game. I had wanted him since he first emailed me back in December, and when I want something it's hard to dissuade me otherwise (even when everything is telling me I shouldn't want it). I'm very stubborn and I'm used to getting what I want.

After that disastrous first meeting I didn't know what to think. He was some guy I thought was good looking, and I had been looking forward to meeting him for a few weeks, but he turned out to not be what I had expected. But I figured the more detached I could stay the better so maybe his abrasive personality was a good thing? And unfortunately I am the definition of curiosity killed the cat. I will always take a chance because I'd much rather regret doing it, than not doing it at all. so I agreed to give it a second go and meet him at 6pm at Le Lutetia next door to my flat after he got off work. But later he said he had a meeting with his boss and he couldn't make it. It was arranged for the next day.


In the morning I received a text from him. It was raining outside, and gross, and I was in no mood to leave my flat. I also didn't get much sleep the night before and lack of sleep turns me into a cranky bitch. After some back and forth he agreed to meet me at the cafe near my flat around 2pm. 

Around 11am he texted me saying he was on his way. ?!?! That should have told me all I needed to know. People who have disrespect for other people's time annoy me. But the man had no respect for me so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. 

I met up with him at Lutetia. Once again he was grumpy and busted. He was angry about not getting an email and he took the opportunity to once again attack my Americanness. He went on about how great France was in comparison (yet all he could talk about was how much he hated it and wanted to leave?). After about 5 minutes of him jabbing at his phone, he said "let's see your flat" and we went back. 

Of course it took him all of two seconds to criticize it. My flat is small but serves it's purpose, and I happen to love the area I live in. It's historic. The streets are tiny. The Seine is at my door. It's perfectly in the center of Paris. To me it's perfection. To Julien it's "not Montmartre". Seriously I have never met anyone more obsessed with Montmartre. With the way he waxes poetically you would think the rest of Paris is a shithole. 

He started kissing me again and really that's the only time I liked him. He finally shuts up, and he's not like most French guys (there is such a thing as too much tongue). I was in a new city where I didn't know anyone, I don't speak the language, and I was feeling lonely. It's probably why I wanted to sleep with him. I hadn't ever done this kind of thing before. I only sleep with men I'm in a committed relationship with, but I don't want someone who is going to place expectations on me right now, especially in a new city where I'm still trying to figure it all out. I'm independent, and I need someone who can be the same. 

But I dont know if I cared for him as a person. I couldn't tell if I hated his personality because he was very good at switching on. Was he just a miserable asshole because he hated his job and his lack of vacation, or was he always like that? (Spoiler alert: he's a puto). But I figured that would make it easier for me to stay detached, so him being a twat wasn't a big deal. Or so I thought. 

We got upstairs, and got into it, and once again he started. He wanted to control how I moved, he got mad at me for being , he did that annoying thing where he made me keep my legs up. Like why do guys do that? If your dick is small, ok, you need that move, but it gets really annoying after a while. Can you change it up or is that all ya got? That's a sign to stay away too by the way, any guy that can only (not) satisfy a girl with that move is clearly someone who is not bothered by their inability to please anyone but themselves. 

Finally I just had to time out. I didn't even want to bounce ass and make it clap like a Jamaican in a Diplo video, which is so unlike me. I wasn't feeling it. Sex should not be that uninteresting. What girl wants lazy dick? 

He wasn't as fun as I thought he'd be. I like my men to be sex fiend perverts, but this one was boring. I need a guy who's going to make me tapout and this one didn't have it in him. It was a let down. The preview the day before led me to believe he had just the kink I was looking for, but judging by his technique, I was under false pretenses. Completely disappointing.

But no matter how not great it was I could have gotten myself off eventually, what really took me out of the moment was his annoying ability to whine about everything. Yes he even finds the time to do it during sex. It's one thing to criticize someone but to do it while you're inside of them? And FYI guys, we fake moan for you, not for ourselves. That's not to say we always fake it because some men really can get those noises all on their own, but for the others that can't, we're hoping it gives you some kind of confidence so you can get the "job" done. Clearly it doesn't always work.

We moved back downstairs and sat on the couch for a bit, talking. It really gave no indication of what was going to happen next because it wasn't awkward. I didn't feel any animosity from him and I didn't feel any towards him. I figured we'd take a second, perhaps assess why it wasn't working and then try again. I mean the first time with anyone is awkward, even more so when you don't know them, and are not comfortable with them. I figured maybe he just didn't have a filter and I was overreacting or being too sensitive. And frankly no one likes to be blue balled. I just needed to cum and then he could fuck off back to Montmartre, and his miserable existence. 

But then he took it to some next level shit.


He had a cigarette, and said he was hungry. We agreed to meet at Lutetia. He said he'd give me 15 minutes to get dressed. The last thing he did was criticize my feet and told me "close your door". 

I wasn't in the mood to look nice so I threw on a sweater, some jeans, and my trainers. It took me all of 5 minutes and I headed over. When I got there he wasn't there. I asked the lady behind the bar, she hadn't seen anyone come in. I texted him. No answer. Read receipt said he viewed it (quick tip if you have an iPhone and you turn your read receipts off that only works on iMessage, not Blackberry). I called him, it went straight to voicemail. 

The branleur literally stood me up. Although I don't think you can actually call it a stand up if they do it after they've met with you. Who does that? Why not just say "see ya" and not text or email again? I've never been stood up before. but I'm guessing a standup means that you don't ever have to meet the person, whereas being stood up by a guy who was literally inside you less than 15 minutes ago...

But then again that was probably his plan, for his own shits and giggles. I guess he wasn't satisfied with just being my first bad lay, or my first one off, he thought he'd also be the first wanker too. I don't sleep with a lot of guys, I'll admit I'm a relationship girl so I'm not used to hitting it and quitting it, but I don't think any way you look at it, pulling something like this is ever okay (even for a casual thing). 

I think as adults we could have both admitted to each other that it wasn't what the other had expected and gone our separate ways. As someone who's like ten years older than me you would think he would have developed at least a modicum of civility by now. 


Any way I hope Julien gets his wish and he has a great life in Asia, cursing capitalism, and colonialism, and the Western world that he hates so much, the world that afforded him all of the luxuries he takes part in, yet he bemoans. As long as the Pôle Emploi sends him chômage checks right? I don't know how or why someone can be so miserable but it doesn't surprise me that Mr. Congeniality here has to go trolling for pussy on Craigslist. 

For any girls that do meet him in the future, I hope you realize what you're about to get involved with. If you're just looking for someone to use and abuse by all means fuck with him, but if you're thinking otherwise save yourself the time and bullshit. This is clearly one guy who doesn't give a fuck about anyone but himself. Selfish in life, selfish in bed. Shocker.

I even asked him if he had ever been in love. And despite proceeding to tell me he had had two long term relationships, a Canadian for five years? and a Russian for two? He said no, he didn't even like them. Wtf? How are you with two people for that long and you don't like them? Tells you everything really. Clearly something isn't right with him. 

Don't be the stupid girl who thinks she can "change" a guy. Life isn't a romantic comedy. there's no hope for this guy. Once a guy's his age there's no growing and becoming "a better person". They're set in their ways. Find someone who's not a lookin ass. I would hate to know some other girl had to deal with this fool and some bullshit like this. 

And remember, never mess around with a guy who doesn't respect women. Guys like this one should be avoided like the plague.





Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Money Troubles


















If you're a student you'll have the opportunity to open a French bank account so you probably don't need this info. And if you bank with HSBC, which has branches all over Paris, you're a lucky sod. However if you're not a student, you can take a little lesson from me.

So I bank with Wells Fargo and I hate them. I hate them so much I'm probably going back to Chase because even though Chase sucks, Wells Fargo sucks harder. I called them three times, like I was supposed to, to let them know I would be out of the country. I even called them three times the day after I arrived. And intermittently I probably emailed them five times before and after. They were well aware that I would be traveling to Paris.

The Friday after I arrived I had to go to the ATM. The night before at Charles De Gualle I didn't pull out enough and so the next day I tried at the two ATMs located on the corners near my flat. Each time I was told that my bank wouldn't authorize it. Then low and behold I come back home, check my account and $272 had been taken out. I called Wells Fargo and they said they would dispute, credit me and after me telling them a hundred times to leave me card alone, they assured me I'd be fine. 

So I go about using my card the rest of the week like nothing. But then Thursday rolls around, I swipe my card and am declined. I figured the machine wasn't taking my card (which happens apparently for certain retailers or machines) so I paid in €€€ and went on my way. 






















Luckily something was nagging me to check up on this (the bank can usually find the transaction and tell you why your card was declined) so I called Wells. They informed me that they closed my card and I would need a new one before I could access my money. I explained to them that I was in Paris and I needed a card now because I had no money. They didn't even know why they closed my card and they could not care less that I would be in a foreign country without money. After being hung up on numerous times, finally the sixth person said the best they can do is Fed-Ex it and that would take 6 days. Assholes. They wouldn't even let me Western Union myself.

Now I'm not someone who uses credit cards. I am horrible with money. I never watch my spending, I never look at my bank account, I just swipe, swipe, swipe. If I had a credit card I'd probably put myself into debt and no one needs that. My mummy always tells me "if you can't afford it, you probably shouldn't have it", so no plastic for me. In this case I was cursing myself for being so financially responsible. I really had nothing else. Sad how a little piece of plastic can ruin things for you. 

But then I remembered I had brought an American Express card with me because Wells charges for foreign transactions and Amex does not. Luckily I was able to have my parents give me a top up in the meantime.

My advice to you? Bring back ups. If something happens you can get someone to Western Union or Moneygram you as well, but make sure you have another card or two handy. They can be bought at the gas station, Walmart, Walgreens, pretty much everywhere. 

And if something still goes wrong and you find yourself without a way to access your dosh, McDonald's allows you to pay with Paypal so have that handy as well. Yes, I know ew McDonald's, but Paris' McDonald's really afford you some great luxuries; like paying with Paypal (so far they're the only company I know who uses PayPal as a form of payment, which is just weird).

Oh and definitely exchange for euros before you leave home. Your bank won't charge you. As much as I hate carrying cash, most places don't except Amex, which seems to be a problem that isn't limited to the States (seriously what the hell is with Amex being accepted virtually nowhere?!?). The only upside is that AMEX doesn't charge ATM fees. Apparently the French love VISA, so I guess have backup visas.






Saturday, February 1, 2014

So You Need a Place to Live?




Finding an apartment in Paris is by the far the worst apartment hunting experience I have had. I've rented in London, Antibes, Rome, and of course America, but Paris takes the cake. And I don't exactly have lofty ambitions.

I wasn't looking for anything spectacular, a little studio would do, but finding vacancies was damn near impossible. Most of the sites I checked (in English mind you) don't really do long term renters and the price of short term is mucho grande (agencies take a huge cut). I wish I could give you some sage advice but I haven't figured it out yet.

From what I can tell stay away from Craigslist. Scammers abound there. I posted an ad and got nothing but "doctors" living in "Africa" renting their flats while they are away *eyeroll*. And posting replies to ads was nothing but fakes too.

I rented my flat off of a vacation rental website called Home Away (I don't recommend them). There were tons of sites I looked at but the ones I looked at  the most were airbnb.com and Fusac, and agencies like Lodgis, Paris Attitude, Book Your Paris, House Trip, Residences Paris, A Part of Paris, and Paris Stay. Those companies require agency fees, which are a rip, but I guess you have to use what you can. 


To be honest my flat was expensive (yes I know it's because it's Saint Louis), and it didn't look anything like the picture. Be very aware when you rent that you're not getting a lemon. Maybe put a get out early clause in your contract if you show up and it isn't what you were expecting. I was really lucky I didn't pay for two months in advance because I didn't want to be stuck there one more week, much less longer.

There's also a few French websites to look into like colocation.fr, but the French sites I visited to be honest weren't all that great. You can also try PAP, leboncoin.fr, and viva street.com. Cite internationale universitaire de Paris offers help finding accommodation as well, but I didn't find out about them until after I had paid my deposit. I might end up using them when my flat runs out, if I decide to stay longer.

If you plan to apartment hunt do it as soon as possible. In London and Antibes they (owners and agents) were really unhappy looking for flats more in advance, and I thought Paris would be the same way, but even in February things were booked quickly so start as soon as possible.