Tuesday, 27 November 2012


Got two pairs; one red and one black, because I couldn't decide...so anyway, dear citizens and denizens of the interweb, which ones do you prefer?

J'ai acheté deux paires de lunettes car j'arrivait pas a choisir....mes chers et cheres citoyens du web, vous preferez lesquelles? Les noires ou les rouges?

Monday, 19 November 2012

Ma Vie Amoureuse a Paris 2

There is no English word to describe exactly what I mean, so I have had to use the French phrase...anyway, since July/August, I've have quite a few "aventures amoureuses". Here are the stories in order of which they happened.

Bastien, French, 23, banker guy and friend of work colleagues...
We met at a birthday party. He had been to school and was best friends with one of the girls. This should have been a warning sign for me, but we live and learn. Anyway, before anything could happen between us, he had to travel for work to Japan, so in the mean while, we "talked" by email via Facebook  To my horror, I discovered that he had been telling his friend every little detail about our chats. She in turn told the other girls in her group of friends and they began to tease me and talk about it ALL the time at work, even texting me at home to ask constantly how things were  going. As someone who is extremely private, this soon became intolerable and I quickly put an end to the "liaison." It was a very short-lived affair...

Ben, Jewish-American, 25, PhD student on a see-where-my-family-came-from trip around Europe...
When I first met him, I had felt zero attraction. He was super blond, with the bluest eyes and not very tall...in other words, not at all my type. The thing is I have never fallen in love, but I've always imagined that being as opened-minded as possible, is the surest route to finding the right person. Anyway, I decided to give B a chance because he was persistent and deaf (I'm an equal opportunities kind of girl ;) ). He told me that he had a job offer with an Engineering firm in the UK after his PhD (scheduled to finish before the end of the year), and he was planning to move to Europe, so this was also kind of a reconnaissance trip. Things went well in the beginning, but as I got to know him better, I started to regret having given him the chance. He embodied every negative stereotype about Americans! He was loud, believed America was the perfect country and everywhere else was uncivilised, farted/belched in public, and was generally as uncouth and disagreeable as possible. It became obvious to me that it was going nowhere, so I put an end to it pretty sharpish. The only thing I gained from this relationship was the discovery that I am fine with having a "disabled" partner, something which would become important later on.

Antoine, French, 23, Masters student and intern at Ad agency. 
I met him at my birthday party in August, while I was still going out with Ben. He was a friend of my sister's work colleague, and he had been invited even though I knew neither him nor his friend. I didn't really notice him to be honest, but my little sister (who was spending the summer with us) later told me he had spent the night staring at me. Anyway, he left the party early and took my number under the pretext of contacting me if he found a nice club... Both my sisters and brother hated Ben, and they kind of opened my eyes to the fact that A might like me. Long story short, we went out a few times in the beginning and he was very sweet. However, I had also met F at around the same time, and he was much more attentive than A who would take days to respond to texts and never had time to hang out. He seemed to spend his time apologising, for not responding, for cancelling dates, for not having time. In the end, I asked him point blank what he wanted, and that's when he said he was being flaky because he was confused. He liked me, was attracted to me, blah blah blah etc., but wasn't sure if he was over his ex or wanted to start a new relationship. Besides, he was worried about starting something and then having to leave Paris (which he hates!) after his internship. I tried to reason with him, but realised that I didn't want to be in another ambiguous relationship, so we agreed to end things. Since then we've tried to keep up the friendship, and gone out once, but I think he is still confused. I stopped texting/emailing, because as I said he is absolutely rubbish at replying and it bugs me. Sometimes he writes, just out of the blue, in ways that make me wonder about us and what's going on in his head. To be honest, I'm not sure either of us got closure from this "relationship,"  and although I still wonder about what could have been, I've definitely moved on.

Somewhere between these guys, I also had "encounters" with many others including Matthew (English), Guy (Congolese), Francisco (Portuguese), Pierre, Pierre and Sebastien (all three French). Most were just casual dates, and I was fine with not taking things further. However, with Francisco who had to go back to Switzerland (got an internship, as an economist at the ECB) and three of the guys who were older than me, I was a bit.... sadly, even though I tried really hard, things just didn't work out. I guess the older guys felt slightly paedophilic around me :(

Anyway, this brings us to Frédéric. 
French, 22, Masters student and intern. Current boyfriend :)
So when I first met F, he was super attentive, romantic etc. I liked all these things, but wasn't very attracted to him. However, I decided to give him a chance because he was very persistent. We have been together more or less since September, after a while I started to like him but there were initially a few bumps in the road. 

First, I found out that he had lied about his age, he told me he was 23, when in fact he was 22. When I confronted him about it, he said it was because he really liked me but was worried I wouldn't want to go out with someone so young. I thought it was kind of sweet, but was rather annoyed by the fact that we started the relationship based on a lie (my sister thinks it's not that bad!). I then found out that he had been in a very bad accident when he was 20, which had almost killed him, and which had left him with multiple disabilities...cognitive, speech, mobility. They are not obvious when you first meet him, but have a big impact on his life, for example he needs to spend lots of time with various therapists. As someone with a type A personality,  he also has a crazy schedule which would be hard enough for any "abled" person to manage, school work, internship, sports etc. When you add the time spent on therapies, it becomes almost impossible to find time for anything else. Right at the beginning of the relationship, the age and time issues made me quite reticent  but I thought that if we really wanted to be together we could work things out. So to test his seriousness, I sent him a message asking if he wanted to continue the relationship or wanted instead to be just friends. He replied yes, and cited the issues which were already on my mind. For me, this was a sign that he wasn't serious, so I decided to just cut off all contact. A week later, he contacted me, apologised and we decided to give things another chance.  We've been together ever since, and I'm learning to get over my upset at the way things happened initially...I think I like him, but my feelings fluctuate. I also haven't really seen him in about 3weeks, and I neither miss him nor care. At the moment I'm taking each day as it comes, hoping I'll eventually go back to feeling secure in the relationship, but I can kind of see the end in sight, so I'm keeping my options open. After-all who knows what the future holds :) 

I have decided that my very young face is not at all an asset. I only ever seem to attract really young guys, which I wouldn't mind in itself, except for the fact that maturity comes with age...SIGH!

Friday, 16 November 2012

Ma Vie Amoureuse a Paris

I've decided to write this post in English because it's likely to be quite long :)

When I initially moved here, I was so preoccupied with acquiring the language, starting work as a nurse etc., that I didn't have the time or energy  to date. Besides, it's pretty difficult to meet people when all you do is go to French classes, babysit and teach children. I met one or two guys during that time, from my French school (had a girlfriend, so no!) and one really lovely guy from church, to whom I just wasn't attracted...October-December was pretty dry in that sense. 

Anyway in January, I met the guy that would really "basculer ma vie" as we say in French. J was on the same programme as me, teaching at a university where we had two-week contracts for intensive English classes. Right from the beginning, he seemed really curious about me, asking lots of questions and trying to show how much he knew about Nigeria and Africa in general. Now, I'm a VERY proud Nigerian, and he is a typical European (half French, half Scottish grew up in England), so I was pretty impressed by his knowledge. He told me about how his brother had been born in South Africa, how his parents were really into African music, how he spent two years in Tanzania, and would love to go back there to work after his Masters (his reason for being in Paris). We talked about the unfair privilege sometimes accorded to white people in African societies, as well as the good, bad and ugly about Nigeria. I usually am quite circumspect about these issues, because I know many people are already quite prejudiced against my lovely country, but I felt completely at ease with him...It really was like talking to another Nigerian. We talked about Fela, P-squared, D'Banj and Nollywood all of which he loved with a passion. He took me to see exhibitions about Nigeria (not easy to find in a Francophone country), and showed me an uber-cool "world music" bar where they sometimes played old King Sonny Ade songs! We loved similar books, music (he often sent me clips), wandering around Paris and going to cool places ("weird" contemporary art galleries, clubs, antiques markets etc). Gradually, I fell in love with the idea of being with him, he seemed so...perfect. 

Right at the beginning of the relationship, I kind of told him I was just looking for a friend because I wanted to stay in Paris and he was obviously just passing through. He was also much younger than me at 23, I was 27... A few weeks later though, I asked him out and he told me he had just started going out with a girl from his university. I was so sad! Not because I loved him, but because I loved the idea of finally finding someone who seemed to totally understand my culture, my origins, and the unique result of being raised as a child of two cultures. As an aside, I have never dated a Nigerian (not for want of trying!), and it sometimes bugs me to know that I might end up with someone to whom I would constantly have to explain aspects of my culture. 

Anyway, even after his admission, nothing changed.  I became confused after a while because he never spoke about his girlfriend and we still spent entire days together, even though all the hand-holding etc. had stopped. Eventually, I asked him about A and he told me she was doing an internship in the Philippines (him, biologist, her archaeologist). I decided to be extremely careful around him after that, because I could see things becoming complicated really easily. Around his birthday in May, he asked for a Nigerian meal as a present and I promised to make him pepper soup, fried rice and dodo, clearly proof that he was getting under my skin....I had never cooked for a guy before that. After I got back from the US, we spent another whole day together just talking and wandering round Paris, and then he invited me to a "party" with his uni mates which I was a bit weird about, having decided to stop hanging out with his friends when I found out he was seeing A. I agreed to go though, because it was his birthday. That my friends, is when things started to go awry. 

First he sent me a message that afternoon telling me that A had met and was seeing someone else in the Philippines, but ended the text by telling me not to read anything into it! Then he spent the evening texting repeatedly, asking if I was coming to the party...In the light of the new information and behaviour, I decided to go with my sister, using her kind of as a cloak of protection. In the end, she left early because she couldn't stand the hippyness of his friends and because she said she could see he really wanted to be alone with me. Throughout the night he became more and more tactile even though I kept refusing his advances (we hadn't talked and I wanted to avoid any misunderstanding). Next day was the promised meal, and I brought up the text and his behaviour the night before, which he blamed on his drinking and the fact that he really liked me and found me attractive. However, he then said he was planning to try to work things out with A. In retrospect, I should have ended the friendship there and then, because as my sister said, his disrespect towards me meant that he was a bad friend and would obviously not do better as a boyfriend. I didn't listen to her though, so we kept hanging out and things  gradually deteriorated. We started arguing over emails, texts etc., even after he'd left for a four month internship in England, the arguments continued. 

Around July, I went to see my cousin and honorary big brother in Rome, and he advised me to just live my life and cut off all contact with J. I listened to advice this time, and within a few days was able to realise that even though we had loads of fun together, he would have made a crappy boyfriend. Plus I didn't love him (just the idea), and my sister hated him because she though he was ugly and not up to my usual standards :)

My "history" with J happened over the course of 6 months...until June/July. By then, I was on my way to becoming truly integrated into French society and was beginning to meet more guys. Part 2 coming soon....

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

So What Have I Been Up To?

Just before my last desertion, I blogged about taking my French language exams and finally starting work as a nurse.

Well that's exactly what happened. I took the TCF (test de connaissance du français) with lots of fear and trembling  because I was sure that I would fail as a result of my laziness and general attitude of skiving off classes. Luckily  all those hours of watching shitty French TV and reading every material I could get my hands on, helped. I passed the exams, getting a C1 (B2 is the required level) and managing to save myself a fairly expensive 230€ resit! After a lot of hassle,  I was able to register myself as a nurse...French administrative (in)efficiency is a subject for another post. 

Anyway, to celebrate  I pierced my nose and took a well-deserved holiday, managing to fit in a very tiring but incredibly fun 2 week road trip around dixieland (southern USA). 

On returning home (feels strange to call Paris that!) I started looking for jobs and after a few false starts found something at a psychiatric hospital in what was surely the hardest three months of my life. I was working in an environment where I had no experience, with protocols/equipment/medicines which were often very different from what I had used in England, and in a totally new language. Trying to communicate in French, in medical French, with psychiatric patients who used lots of slang and were often delirious was DIFFICULT! Luckily I survived the contract, and I  was able to discover a previously unknown aspect of nursing which I love. I work in a new hospital now, in acute psychiatry (even more "difficult") and I am thriving. 

In the middle of all this, we managed to find a flat and moved from one of 11m² (11!) to a much larger, prettier 54m². We each have our own rooms and my sister can now shut her door when she gets tired of me running around naked. Best thing about the flat though,  is the living room with a canapé-lit, which allows us to have people over. The stream hasn't really stopped since we moved in, in August! Although we love having people, I'm hoping things will slow down soon, because we're tired and I need to hibernate for the winter.

So anyway, at the moment I'm loving my job; although looking for something much closer to home, I've started learning Italian, and I'm back to singing in a choir (we're doing Dvorak's Stabat Mater).

In other news, I have been dating A LOT! Not sure why, but I seem to be very popular here in Paris, although that hasn't equalled finding "the one" or one of "the ones." I'll probably do a post on the craziness that has been my experience of dating in Paris...

Allora, baci e buona giornata a tutti!