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the ex-expat: an American ejected from Paris


By demily · January 25, 2010 · 0 Comments ·


"Yahoo," my father said as I departed."Yeehaw, Dad. It's Yee. Haw."

I was off to my first rodeo!

For her birthday, my cousin Virginia wanted to go to the rodeo - it was in town for one night. As anyone who knows me is aware, I never pass up a chance to see cowboys, or horses being ridden by cowboys, or jeans being worn by cowboys. So, I put on my walkin' boots:

And I was not disappointed by the quality of cowboy on hand.

Exhibit A: Cowboy, front-view

Exhibit B:  Cowboy, rear-view

Save a horse, y'all. Save a horse.*

Rodeos aren't all man-candy and manure, though. They have to balance the fine ass with some jack ass. Enter, the rodeo clown.

He's searching for his dignity. (SPOILER ALERT:  He doesn't find it.)

The rodeo clown kicked off the show with a bang, and by bang I mean a hearty dose of sexual harassment. He asked the crowd for a female volunteer, and every blond UT sorority girl in attendance stood up. He picked the one with the shortest "dress" and proceeded to carry her on his shoulders into the ring. Setting her down, he made a klassy Tiger Woods joke. BANG!

Then he chose a second volunteer from the crowd, a doughy, graying, 40-yr.-old named Steve. The clown did not carry Steve in on his shoulders.

Mr. R. Clown then announced that he was treating the crowd to an episode of American Idol. However, he had clearly mixed his reality show metaphors, as what we witnessed was an episode of So You Think You Can Dance.

Before she even told us her name, we knew the perky blond was called Britney. And we knew her dance would climax with a mock-bull-riding move. And so when Britney bent over and stuck her butt out to the crowd in Thompson-Boling Arena and slapped her ass real hard, we knew that there were some things in life you can count on.

Thanks, Britney.

It seemed as though good ol' Steve had been outgunned. But Steve had an ace up his sleeve. He knew the only thing that trumped sorority girl sex show was clumsily earnest Irish jig. Even with an obviously-biased interference by the Esteemed R. C., Steve won the hearts of the country-fried crowd.

Well played, Steve.

The competition element of the rodeo was less exciting than you may think. As it turns out, staying on a bucking bull for 8 seconds really is hard work, but the show is therefore over as soon as it begins. The more theatric part of the rodeo is rating the many variations on chaps. Cowboy with iridescent sparkling fringe won it for me. (Sorry no picture.) The night wound down with the arrival of the emergency medical team. I'm not sure if every rodeo culminates with a man being drop-kicked in the face by a two ton bull, but it definitely reminded me that this is one of the few sporting events you can attend where there is a better-than-average chance of watching a human being die. Luckily, right as I was feeling like a sleazy, blood-thirsty ancient Roman, the man got up and limped off the ring with the help of the paramedic. So ended my latest cultural excursion in Knoxvegas.


(photos courtesy of Virginia Shoemaker)

*Save a horse. Ride a cowboy.

Tagged with: Knoxvegas, rodeo, cowboys

I piss on you, Humana one

By demily · November 16, 2009 · 0 Comments ·

Well, I've landed stateside. How do I know? Because I am already being ravishingly fucked by American health insurance. And I mean that in the most literal bodily-fluids-have-been-exchanged way. Goodbye France. Goodbye affordable healthcare. Goodbye specialist visits. Goodbye primary care physician I got to see every 3 months. Goodbye, free presciption drugs. In fact - Goodbye, prescription drugs. My prescription for my daily thyroid meds ran out today, and no doctor will renew it without health insurance or $400 up front. (The pills cost $10/month or, in France, $0/month.) Hey, who needs metabolism anyways? I'll just stop eating. . .

Yes, before I can even post about all the wild, crazy, boring, and cute things that have occured since I got back to U.S. of A. in October, I must first regale the inter-web with my health insurance sob/bitch story. 'Tis the season for getting screwed.

His name is Humana one. The "one" is italicized. Because italics are more evil.

Upon arrival in Tennessee, I applied for health insurance on ehealthinsurance.com. A somewhat easy, helpful website which I generally recommend if you are unfortunate enough to be uninsured. I specifically searched for a plan with a monthly premium that was roughly equivalent to what I paid in France:  $120/month. Of course, in France that got me the following:

-free meds

-unlimited doctors' visits

-specialist doctors' visits, including dermatologist, orthopaedic therapist, opthamologist, dentist, gynecologist

-free labs

-free eyeglasses every year

-free 6-month supply of contacts (in addition to the glasses)

-maternity care (didn't need it - but considered using it anyways for the 10 free abs classes)

-free annual foot massage by Zinedine Zidane

All the above, for the low yearly cost of 1000 euros, or about $1400. No monthly premium. No deductible. No questions asked.

Here's what I was offered by Humana one (it's also italicized because in my head I say the last part of "Humana one" with exaggerated scorn) for the bargain monthly *initial* quote of $153.50:

- a $1500 yearly deductible (therefore immediately doubling the comparative French cost)

- no maternity care

- no dental care

- no eyecare

- reduced but not free Rx

- free annual sodomy by insurance adjuster

So - the above is what I begrudgingly applied for online. Then, I was asked by Humana one to get a physical before they would approve me. I've never had to have a physical in order to get insurance coverage. I was a little surprised and peeved by this request. But, I figured, no problem. I'm super healthy. How healthy, you ask?

- I've never smoked. EVER.

- I rarely drink.

- I do not eat meat.

- I do not eat dessert.

- The food I do eat is generally organic.

- I weight train intensively 2x a week.

- I run or exercise 5 days a week.

- My runs average 5 miles.

- When I give blood, they label it "Nectar of the Gods"

I'm healthy, people. So, I don't sweat it when I go in for the physical, blood and urine test. In fact, it was really fun because the nurse told me that I am actually 5'3". That's one inch taller than I thought, and only seven inches away from my lifetime goal of 5'10"!!!

But that glee turns to angry, bitter vile when I get my official offer from Humana one today:  Monthly premium? Not $153.50. But instead, $230.36. Baffled, I call the Humana people. The nice man who answered my call explained the price discrepency to me. Apparently, there was a flag in my lab report. What was wrong? Well, I had a high protein-creatine level. The insurance company considers .20 to be the highest acceptable protein-creatine ratio. I had a .32 level. What does that mean? Well fuck if I know. And fuck if Humana one guy knows either. But google might know. That's right. I called the insurance company to ask what they thought was wrong with me, and the insurance company said, "I don't know. Let me google it."  Ah, private insurance. You're so much more knowledgeable than public insurance.

Google says that an increased protein-creatine level can occur in the urine if the human:  uses steroids, has an infection, had hemorrhaging, or a variety of other reasons I can't remember. So. I either am using steroids, menstruating, or

Me:  "This test result could be because of a minor urinary tract infection?"

H1 guy:  "Yes, possibly."

Me: "And that is cause to charge me $80 more a month?"

H1 tool:  "Yes. The underwriters determined that this result places you at a higher risk. But you can dispute the claim if your doctor performs these same tests and comes up with a different result."

Me:  "I don't have a doctor. I'm uninsured."

H1 jerk: "A clinic, then. You should feel good. Usually people get rejected for this result. But we agreed to cover you. Seriously. I've never seen someone with this result get approved."

Me: "For a high mythical creatine result?"

H1 douche:  "Well it's a real test."

Me:  "But you don't even know what it means."

H1 smartass:  "Well I'm not a medical doctor. And based on the information we have, you aren't either."

Me:  "But I have common sense."

H1 moron:  " . . . "

Me:  "Does the insurance company give me any points for healthy behaviors? I'm a vegetarian, etc."

H1 cocksucker: "Humana one starts with the lowest possible cost . . . With a higher yearly deductible of $2500, we can insure you for a monthly premium of $158."

Me:  "I think I'll look elsewhere."

But heaven forbid America implements "socialist" healthcare. Because then we might actually get coverage.

i love my friends

By demily · September 17, 2009 · 0 Comments ·

Reasons #117-136

By demily · September 17, 2009 · 0 Comments ·

-The baguettes being carried home for supper.

-The boys playing soccer on the esplanade d'Invalides.

-The suits and skirts on vélib.

-The sauce piquante.

-The boots. Oh, the boots.

-The doors.

-The reusable shopping bags and carts.

-The tree-lined boulevards.

-The little cars.

-The buses (and the metro too).

-The naked advertising.

-The cheap and so-drinkable red wine.

-The handy arrondissements.

-The little dogs inside shop windows. Especially linen shop windows.

-The outdoor seating.

-The children's clothing.

-The shopkeepers who know my name and face.

-The stairs.

-The walk-everywhere.

-The scarves, long and ubiquitous.

Wild and Crazy Guys!

By demily · September 17, 2009 · 0 Comments ·

I have never been cool.

But, I have recently (since moving to Paris) learned to be fun. Which is a close relative to cool. The realization struck me in Europe that socializing can be enjoyable (!). People* (*meaning multiple persons in the same place at roughly the same time) can be stimulating in a positive way. Parties (groups of people* socializing with musical accompaniment and unreal quantities of red wine) can produce genuine - not just forced - smiles.


In Los Angeles, a regular Saturday night was me on the sofa with the cats and a book. In Los Angeles, a crazy Saturday night was me on the sofa with the cats and a rented movie and a (one) glass of red wine. The lack of people* in my Los Angeles Saturday nights was not an accident. Because, have you ever met the people* of Los Angeles? They still think the Viper Room is cool. Yeah.


And hotel bars? Aren't those for, you know, walking through quickly on your way to your room so you can dodge the sleazy businessman who has a conference in town and a frigid wife across town?

Appartently not, Chateau Marmont.

And speaking of which - the Sunset Strip, isn't that for hookers?

We didn't see eye to eye, L.A. and me.

But then gay Paris! No, I don't mean gay like that:


I mean gay like this**:


Who needs celebrities when you have expats?

And one more for the kids:


**technically, these pictures are from Valentine's Day, so I haven't really been fun in 7 months. You see, fun leaves me with a bit of a hangover.

No Gateau til the Wedding Night

By demily · September 11, 2009 · 0 Comments ·

I think abstinence is a great idea for some people. Especially if you're dating Levi Johnson. But as we all know, sometimes the best intentions can go awry. We all give into desire from time to time. We don't all become teenage mothers, but you know - things happen.

Things like La Patisserie des Reves.

You see, one of the temptations that I have advocated abstinence from is desserts. I was in the midst of a one-year moratorium from sweets when I moved to Paris. I know. Great timing.

That promise began crumbling upon my arrival and the floodgates officially opened after Lent. Summer '08 will ever after officially be called The Summer of Kelly, I'm Not Having Dessert Unless You're Having Dessert - Oh Your Jackass French Boyfriend Broke Up With You As Soon As You Stepped Off the Plane And So You're Always Having Dessert - Well Then I'm Buying New Pants.

And so.

Earlier this year I reinstated my No Desserts rule. The transition to a sweet-free life was a little more gradual than last time (my birthday '07 - I ate a bite of birthday dessert and that was it 'til Paris). But still, it had been fairly successful. Processed sugar in diet drastically reduced. Only desserts were the fruit-based crumble variety. Didn't miss it for the most part. And then, about a week ago, I was finalizing my plans to leave Paris and return to the United States. And all of a sudden, I realized:

I'm leaving Paris. Land of tartes citron and molloeux au chocolat.

I'm entering Tennessee. Land of Ding Dongs and Rocky Road.

Please allow me to pause a moment so I can vomit at that thought of Little Debbie. . .




Alright. My intestines now evacuated of my lunch, let me tell you what I did next:  I immediately abstained from my abstinence.

With weeks left in Paris, sweets were back on.

I began innocently, mindfully, with just bars of dark chocolate. These did the trick. After weaning myself off of sugar, true desserts gave me more stomach aches than pleasure. But I kept pressing the envelop:  dark chocolate led to dark chocolate gateau, and then to today. When I took a walk in my neighborhood and saw that a new patisserie had opened.

This new palace of desserts had been in the works a few months, and, during that time, even their signage was delicious. So when I passed today and saw doors open, customers waiting, skinny Parisiennes taking orders, I veered in. Each dessert - large or small - was encased in its own glass dome which was hung from the ceiling. I was afraid if I got close enough to read the name cards inside the cases I would set off an alarm. So, I asked the willowy sales lady about the desserts, and she was very helpful up until the part when she said they weren't available today.

My French is still less than advanced, so I assumed I had heard it wrong. I asked for a small chocolate concoction. She said, I'm sorry, we won't have those until next week. Oh. The individual version too? I just wanted a small one. Yes. Those too. Next week. Ah, well, that's fine. Can I order one in advance? No. But you may call before you come next week and see if we have any available. Um . . . okay . . . I just wanted a little dessert . . . So. None of these desserts are for sale? I can't take anything today? Oh, yes! We have everything but the chocolate ones. Ah. Fine. Well then, I will have a tarte a l'orange and an eclair café. Not what I was intending, but I'm here, so . . .

And they were wrapped in a box. And sealed with a ribbon. And placed in a bag. Which is more work than I put into most Christmas presents.

Also included was a "napkin" which I'm pretty sure was actually a vintage, hand-sewn hankerchief.


Once I opened the bag, I almost didn't get to eat the goods because I could not bear to open the box:

But once I managed to violate the perfect white ribbon, I found these - a coffee-flavored eclair so delicate I punched a hole in it just moving it to my plate:


And this beauty, which, since it tasted exactly like a ripe navel orange, is what I am going to tell myself I ate:


It took me all day, but I finished the lot. And, all I'm saying is, Bristol should have dumped Levi and moved to Paris. Pre-marital indulgence is so much better here.


cats in a bag: a new series by Mimi and Moxie

By demily · September 4, 2009 · 0 Comments ·

Courtesy of Moxie and REI:

Courtesy of Mimi and my laptop carrier:

Mimi supports fair trade:

Moxie shops at Whole Foods:

Mimi decrees that guests' backpacks are not off-limits:

Moxie decrees that boxes are not off-limits:

Built for one:

Is it any wonder my thesis isn't done?

Tagged with: cats

Do You Hear What I Hear?

By demily · September 2, 2009 · 0 Comments ·

I will eventually write a post about the evolution of the soundtrack to my Parisian life, but here is a little teaser. I go through periods of iTunes abuse, whereupon I download multiple songs/albums/HughJackmanmovies in very short bursts. They are always impulse purchases, never researched and never regretted. This morning, as I was writing, I tuned into a blog/playlist (myoldkyhome.blogspot.com - ironically from Indianapolis - who knew people in Indiana were cool?) which I very much enjoy, and I heard a couple new tracks that I very much enjoyed. Optimally, I would file this knowledge and eventually seek out my preferred independent record store, good anti-commercial, anti-chain-store, anti-convenience, anti-reason aspiring hippie I am. (For those with access to Paris and a metro pass, my fave is Ground Zero, found here.) However, immediately after developing a crush on some new songs, I wandered onto another blog I follow, and !

I found a paean to the exact same obscure-to-me-but-probably-not-to-TRULY-cool-people indie tune! So, since I rarely step outside my kitchen table these days, except to pee and buy cat food for my raging, insatiable, bulimic wildebeasts, I took this as a divine imperative to take a petit shopping trip to iTunes and buy the album. And another album from a totally different artist. Because I endorse efficient shopping excursions. Thus, here, in all its glory, is the newest addition to my humble iTunes library. Feast!

KaiserCartel, "Okay"


By demily · September 1, 2009 · 0 Comments ·

I done it. I ended it with Grom. It happened a couple weeks ago, but it took me a while to work up the courage to tell you. I don't want to get into the whole saga, but let's just say that I stopped by one day unexpectantly, and I ADMIT, it was bad timing, but I thought it would be okay, and at first nothing was wrong, I just ordered my almond granita like normal, but then I'm walking down the street and Grom is just being way too sweet, like obv he's done something wrong and he doesn't want me to be suspicious so he's being really super nice-sweet, and all of a sudden, I was just like, ew. I was gagging on his frozen sugar. I could barely stomach it. So, I just kept walking, all the way home, back to my dependable dark chocolate. It turns out, the stereotype about Italian men is true - they're just over-the-top. Too much. But, as predicted (and maybe this was the reason), the break-up happened just when the weather broke in Paris and hot August turned into Fall August. I just didn't need him anymore.


By demily · August 12, 2009 · 0 Comments ·

You know what the blogosphere needs more of? Feline vomit.
So, I'll do my part by offering some of mine. I have extra, you see.
That's because my two furry black and white angels, Moxie and Mimi, see fit to purge their bellies of unpleasant cargo at least three times a week onto my carpet. Generally, they perform this female feline ritual during the wee hours of the morning. It is not uncommon for me to wake up to the sound of "HACK. HACK. PUKE." This game is played much like Duck Duck Goose, if the goose at the end was half hairball/half digested tuna.

Now, I must admit that Mimi has struggled with bulimia for some time - since her early adolescence, in fact. I have told her repeatedly that her figure is perfect and you can't trust what you see in magazines - they totally photoshop Pepe le Pew's girlfriend - and I tell her she is beautiful - prettier than Pussy Galore - but I still find her binging on salmon at breakfast and then running into the bedroom and throwing up on the carpet. Adding insult to injury, organic cat salmon costs as much as organic people salmon. Thanks, Mimi. I'll just clean up the bile and small fortune you threw up on the carpet. And, no, Mimi, covering it up with my clean laundry won't help. Plus, during the hot months, Moxie adds her nausea to the mix.

However, as summer and my cats' digestive problems wear on, I find myself increasingly unwilling to undertake said clean-up. In my humble defense, when I moved into my loft, the carpet was already nasty. In fact, the first thing I noticed when I looked at my apartment the first time was the smell. I walked in the door and was hit by a wall of moldy old smoke-grime smell. The thinning brown-grey rag that covered the entire flat was apparently (twenty years ago) white and blue striped carpet. At the time, I stood in the entry way of the apartment and held my nose and asked my future landlady, "So, it will be cleaned before I move in, right?" And she said, "Oh, it's been cleaned." I knew then that there wasn't much more damage my two cats could do to it.

Thus, I have a few small patches of cat vomit collecting on my floor. I keep meaning to clean them, but pressing tasks like baking pumpkin custard keep getting in the way. This post will hopefully disgrace me into performing my pet guardian responsibilities.
The culprits:

















The vomit:



















The pumpkin custard:

Filed in: pets
Tagged with: vomit, cats, Paris, Pets