Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Check out the video I made at the bottom!

The other day I was mentioning to a good friend of mine how I would love to give him a makeover. Now he's not a bad looking guy at all and he has his own style, but I have been curious to see what he would look like in clothing pieces he has never worn.

He agreed to this.

It is not the first time I give a guy a makeover, actually I have done it plenty of times (mostly with my ex-boyfriends). My makeovers have gotten really great results, but it has also not done much for me.

When I first met my ex-boyfriend, he was this really nerdy guy, who had the whole gamer t-shirt and jeans look. I have nothing against gamer shirts, but this was on a daily basis (plus the type of underwear he wore was not helping his appearance). Well I liked him for who he was, but out of curiosity I suggested a few pieces of clothing here and there, and this became one of the best and worst things I have ever done. It was the best because he felt good about himself and he was finally showing that he was handsome. The downside was when the other girls (that never realized how cute he was) started to get interested in him just because of a few changes to his appearance.

Well, though he was very much crazy about me, he still ended up leaving me because of the attention he was getting and he went through the whole "grass is greener on the other side syndrome."

I am, however, pleased to know that because of me I made a difference in someones life even though it didn't benefit me in any way.

So why is it that I do makeovers?

I do it because I love style and I find a great sense of euphoria doing it. Plus, it reminds me of my life size barbie, except I use guys for my makeovers.

Which gave me another idea; to make my own company called Make Me Over, Coffee Bean Inc. The start of this company can change things around for men all around the world! From looking like a bum to looking classy, the man who uses my services will have the best self esteem ever.

My services include:

1. Having me around for one whole day
2. Compliments from a lot of girls
3. A change of look
4. Girls checking you out
5. A better you
6. And probably a new girlfriend by the end of the day

(My services can be for ladies too, but as I said before, I mostly do makeovers on men).

Hanny the coffee bean

My "Pet" Turtle

Today, I had a dental appointment at 11 o'clock so I needed to head out of the house at a particular time. Since I had not seen my dentist in over a year (thanks to my 7-month Dijon hiatus), I decided to dig out of my closet and try on a t-shirt that I had not worn in over two years; it fits again!

As I made my way down the driveway towards my car, my attention was diverted to a small dark circular object lying adjacent to the mailbox. My mind didn't register what was going on. I blinked. I leaned further down to confirm what my eyes were interpreting.

There, baking on the cracked sidewalk, was indeed a very small turtle. I did one of those gasps that results in you simultaneously having a large, stupid grin on your face. I looked around. I live in a suburban area that is considerably turtle-less, so I wonder where and how this stray creature arrived in front of my house. There is a canal in my neighborhood but it is too far for it to have crawled all the way. Could someone have carelessly discarded it? Who knows?

For the time being, this nameless turtle shall be known as Turtle X.

What's the first thing you do when you see something out of the ordinary? You tell someone else.

Fearing it becoming overly dehydrated, I picked it up using a clean paper towel (I still couldn't control my "ick" factor), filled a plastic container with some water and temporarily placed Turtle X in it. It squirmed a bit and tried to escape. I noticed from its little webbed paws (claws?) indicated that it is indeed acclimated to water. It also has claws that it probably uses for walking on land.

I'm not a fan of reptiles, but I admit that Turtle X does have something cute about it. Its teeny, tiny claws, the markings dotting its round shell, its minuscule head that it contracts and expands cautiously as a defense mechanism.

This all probably took five minutes and I soon made my way to the dentist, the same one I've been seeing since I was 8. I'm glad to report that my teeth are in great health (zero cavities) and that when I told my dentist that I would be returning to France, she granted me nearly a whole box of those sample tubes of toothpaste dentists hand out. They have whitening power, too! (Cross one item off my list.) For one moment, I felt like the Toothpaste Queen.

I went back home to Turtle X and breathed a sigh of relief that it was still very much alive.

The question lingered in my mind: what does it eat? I fully admit my ignorance as to what this cold-blooded herp chows down on to survive, and I don't want to end up with the tragic story of a starved turtle on my hands. What could it possibly eat? Worms? Grass? Bugs? Lettuce? Carrots? Macaroni and Cheese?

(Turtle X doesn't seem to appreciate its decor of the sink drain. It probably thinks it's a prison for plates and cups.)

My grandmother seems all for keeping it. I suspect that this little turtle evokes nostalgic memories of the time when she had a small plot of land in Colombia where she raised chickens, ducks, goats and even had a turtle or two. I'm trying to prevent myself from getting too attached to Turtle X because I still have to see what my mother's reaction is (God, asking for her permission makes me feel like such a little kid). I doubt she will want a pet turtle; we already have enough on our plates with a vicious Demon Chihuahua. She'll probably tell us to just release it into the wild (ie, the neighborhood canal) where it will surely die at the beaks and jaws of predators.

Although, I guess what really will be better for Turtle X would be to let it fend for itself against the hungry canal ducks and fishes. I suppose it beats a life living in a prison-like plastic container, no?

However, if Mom does accept to keep Turtle X...I will need some name suggestions for it. :-)

Barb the French Bean

Update about Turtle X:

Well, Mom came home and said that it would be in Turtle X's best interests to be back in its natural habitat (not the scalding sidewalk). It would not have been practical for us to have kept it.

She also momentarily had the crazy idea that we should release my temporary pet to walk inside the house. Based on a friend's superstitions: if a turtle shows up at your house, it is good luck to let it roam indoors to remove any bad vibes/spirits.
Yeeeeeeeeeaaaaah...I'm not very keen on having a turtle as a rabbit's foot.
(Here's Mom checking out our temporary house guest.)
Still, Mom was not just about to let Turtle X into the wild before introducing Maddie to it. I was a bit wary when she placed the plastic container on the floor, but thankfully the Demon Chihuahua turned out to be a chickensh*t docile host.

She immediately fled from Turtle X to the highest throw pillow on the couch.

Yes. Turtle X is gone now. I really hope that it safely makes it big in this vast world.

Thanks for all the name suggestions. ^.^

Sunday, August 29, 2010

One Month to Go...

In exactly one month from today, I will find myself in Charles de Gaulle airport and set my feet upon French soil.

However, before that day comes, I must deal with sorting and organizing the many, many things I will require for my proper installation. What better way to do this than by making lists?

The Essentials:

The Passport (duh)

The Plane Ticket (duh)

The Arrêté de Nomination (my work contract-major DUH)

Multiple photocopies of said document

The French Cellphone (duh)

The French Cellphone Charger (major duh if you consider the French Cellphone)

French Checkbook for Société Générale

Société Générale Bank Card

Perhaps this sounds a bit negative, but considering the money I don't have in the account, this card is practically pointless...

Official Copy of Birth Certificate

Some French organizations require proof that I was born. It will impress them to see that I was born in New Jersey 23 years ago.

The SNCF Carte 12-25

This is a discount card for train tickets. Very, very efficient if you make lots of one-day trips to surrounding French cities. It requires a passport-sized picture and a valid I.D. (passport) with the train ticket. The pesky contrôleurs may or may not check all of this when you board the trains.

Divia Bus Card

This is a card that also has my picture on it. I use it once I purchase a monthly bus pass, which is different from the card itself. It wards off those pesky Divia contrôleurs who randomly hop on the buses to catch those without a ticket or bus pass and fine them.

The Carrefour Carte de Fidélité

Does not require picture I.D. It is the points card for the supermarket chain, Carrefour. This card collects store credits (money) and later awards me with store check which I can use to buy more stuff at Carrefour. When Carrefour wants your fidélité (loyalty), it gets it, all right.

Clothes-shirts, blouses, pants, dresses, hats, socks, bras, underwear


Each packet lasts for approximately one month. That is, only if I end up with new roommates who also do not like coffee. If they happen to love coffee just as much as I do, then I predict I will run out of espresso by October 15.

Espresso Maker

Essential Bathroom Stuff:

2 Tubes of Toothpaste with Whitening Power

I've noticed, with horror, that the French have unusually yellow teeth. I would like to blame smoking and excessive drinking of coffee and alcohol for such a vibrantly disturbing color, but both my room mates neither smoked nor drank coffee and only drank alcoholic beverages on social occasions. Conclusion: something is up with their toothpaste.

1 American Toothbrush

French toothbrush heads are quite small. Perhaps it has something to do with the difference in dental structure between both cultures? Are American oral orifices that honestly that huge?

Yes, they are. I will treasure Oral-B for life.

Shampoo and Conditioner/Body Wash/Deoderant

I could easily save myself some extra weight in my suitcase and just buy this stuff over there, but I also aim to at least spare myself from having to purchase these toiletries for 1 month or so. I got to save some money and buy in bulk.

Feminine Stuff. *ahem*

Obtained Items for Trip:

4 New Pairs of Shoes

3 New Pairs of Jeans (In a smaller size, no less!)

2 Very Cute Bolero Jackets from Forever 21

1 Dress that I Got on Clearance (Thank you, Target!)

I always tend to splurge on new clothes for a trip. I blame my mother for instilling this vanity in me. Plus, I'm gonna be over there for 7 months...I need to spend in Dollars while I still can!

2 Small Notebooks (very handy when I need to jot down something quickly)

Pending Items:

Money for rent and one-month deposit (!!!)

How I'll get this money, I'll never know...

At least 2 cans of Paul Mitchell Sculpting Foam hair mousse

I just haven't been able to find anything that works as good as that in Dijon. I have a hunch that it might be available in Paris, but I'd rather pay for the mousse in Dollars rather than Euros. I'm sensibly stingy like that.

Bottle of Biosilk Silk Therapy (hair product)

While I am on this item, I would like to take a brief moment to vent. It seems that for the time that while I was away, the makers of Biosilk (apparently, Farouk USA) decided that it would be a fun idea to irk me by nearly doubling the price. Instead of viciously yanking out my hair in tufts, I'm gonna hit some stores and compare prices. The game's objective: whichever store offers the lowest price gets my money.

Strawberry Nesquick

They only have the chocolate kind over there, and that will be sure to freak out my students.

A Bottle of French's Mustard

If strawberry Nesquick doesn't freak them out, then the American version of a bright yellow condiment that dare calls itself "mustard" will. Remember: Dijon = Mustard

I especially hope they get the irony of the brand's name...

American Mini-Oreos for my students

Oreos do exist in France, but they 1) come from Spain and 2) are quite expensive. I could get a 3 ounce bag over here for $1 at Target.

My Lost Temporarily Misplaced CD of Christmas Music

The French have the wrong impression that American Christmas music consists of slow ballads crooned by Bing Crosby. "Jingle Bell Rock" and "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree" are unheard of over there! I really need to dispel this misunderstanding.

Gifts for French Friends!

One of them specifically requested that I get her a box or two of Duncan Hines cake mix. I think I will stock up on Cuban coffee and guava paste. Mmmmmm...


Before I start getting too excited, I must also remember that I am returning to a not-so-foreign country. Like many foreign countries, there is a possibility that I may encounter some culture shock-inducing instances.

That is why I decided to re-train myself and start the culture shock process while I am still in the States. I find that music often aids in my transition...

Ilona Mitrecey "Un Monde Parfait." Yes, this is a children's song and it was a hit over there. Deal with it.

Philippe Katerine. Just about anything he does is weird, but I still haven't quite recovered from "Louxor, J'adore" and "100% V.I.P."

And, the biggest shock: France Gall's "Les Sucettes." Written by the legendary Serge Gainsbourg, who admittedly was not the most saintly man, "Les Sucettes" is a playful song about a girl named Annie who likes "lollipops." Really likes "lollipops."

The best part? 17-year-old France Gall had NO IDEA about the song's innuendo. At all. Not even with the bluntly explicit music video.

After seeing these videos, you may wonder what exactly appeals to me about France. What could possibly make me love a country that produces such weird music?

...I just feel at home over there. I can't quite explain it, really. :-/

Wish me luck!

Barb the French Bean

Disclaimer: the videos are not mine...even I couldn't think up stuff this weird. o_O"

Friday, August 27, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: Not a Typical Review

About three weeks ago, I went to see Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. Now I must add that I am not at all the most reliable person to come to when needing a review, but I thought that Scott Pilgrim deserved a good, detailed review from me (You know it is good if I am doing a detailed review).

[Me= No Detail]

If you have ever seen the trailer, the movie will look a bit uninteresting, nerdy, silly, mindless, and juvenile, but this movie is not at all what the trailer makes it to be. The movie is full of comic quirks with a twist of old school video gaming. Since the movie is based on the comic book series written by Bryan Lee O'Malley, the director made this movie to have a bit of the comic book feel to it.

Still not interesting enough?

Well the movie also has a great story behind it about a 20 something year old, who falls in love with a girl by the name of Ramona. To get to Ramona's heart, Scott Pilgrim has to defeat her seven evil ex's. As cheesy and cliche as that sounds, it is not at all what I expected it to be. Rather than making it the usual romantic comedy, it has more of a self-discovery concept, but it is put into the film using humor, video games, music, romance, and out of the ordinary, never seen before (at least not by me) visuals.

If that still is not enough....

Did I mention that the movie has insane video game based fights? No? Well it does, and not only that it also has a part where the girls in the movie fight (Guys, I know you would enjoy THAT fight ;-) ). The fighting scenes are epic and the visuals are amazing.

What makes the visuals so amazing?

The effects of course, but what I thought was so amazing about the fighting scenes and a few other scenes was that some of the sounds the actors make in the film actually come up in words.

For example:

The Doorbell

Not only that, but it really gave you a sense that you were playing a video game.

So overall, what do I think about this movie?

It has everything! It is sad, funny, silly, stupid, romantic, crazy, dramatic, and nerdy. For a moment it will suck you in and make you forget about your worries. It will have you clutching onto people from laughing so hard, and it will blow your mind away. Also the movie does have a gay roommate that shares a bed with Scott Pilgrim, a crazy Chinese high school-er with a very interesting name, who is also Scott Pilgrim's girlfriend, an interesting twist to the seven evil ex's, and so much more.

Hanny the coffee bean

(Note: The Scott Pilgrim video is not mine)

Zombie Java

This cartoon is a result of a conversation that was started on the Google Coffee Shop forum "Mutant Monstrosities!" about the blog Ten Years Gone.

(I apologize for the blatant use of profanity in this cartoon, but if I were in a zombie apocalypse, I wouldn't exactly be very polite under the life-and-death circumstances of having no coffee.)
Barb the French Bean

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Chance Encounter Paradox, Or: Why I Hate Milk

As preparation for my return to France, I dug out some old photographs of various trips to New York and Washington, D.C. I want to do some lessons about these cities so I thought it would be a treat to show my French students these places. I then came across a few pictures of myself from my high school years.

My jaw dropped.

I knew that I had been fatter, but I never realized that I honestly looked like a neckless, New Balance sneakers-sporting Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon. I also had not discovered the joys of styling my clothes in a tasteful fashion to not look like an eyesore to other people. I immediately was overcome by a sudden urge to start a bonfire with those photos.

I have visual proof that I have come a long way from those dreadful years I would rather forget. Those photos have given me a sudden boost in confidence, but I must be cautious to not let it go to my head. I don't want it to trigger the vicious cycle of the Chance Encounter Paradox to which I have fallen prey in the past. Not this time!

The Chance Encounter Paradox is a theory centered on how I feel internally that is soon manifested in the occasions of meeting people. As I commence to take better care of my body and mind, I also experience a sudden increase of caring about my personal appearance. I take pride in myself, and I want to eagerly show this brand-new me to others.

As I continue to see people from my past, they compliment the wonderful changes they have seen and encourage me to continue. My confidence steadily increases to a point that breaks beyond what I even anticipated I would feel. I have tasted the power within, and I don't care to let it go.

Now that I am starting to lose weight again, I find that this, rather frustratingly, happens to me quite more often than I would like to admit. I am being unnaturally vain?

Hell yeah, I am.

I've wised up since I was handed that diploma that is now a token of my adolescent tendencies. I've been to college. I've lived in France. I figured out how to work the mascara and eyeliner tubes so I don't look like an Emo Clown hopelessly trying out for a modeling agency. I got Paul Mitchell Sculpting Foam hair mousse. I'm a hell of a lot thinner than I when I was a woefully bloated, fashionably-awkward 17 year-old with New Balance sneakers. I am a confident, mature go-getter who is ready to conquer the world. And I'm showing ALL of that off, damn it.

If living in Dijon taught me anything, it was that I should take more pride in my presentation and always try to look my best just in case I accidentally-on-purpose bump into someone that I know. It would be terrible for them to see me made-down when I should be making the most of my good looks, right? Here in Miami, the place I end up visiting to see if I encounter someone from my past is the mall. I venture into the world with the hope of meeting someone I have not seen in X number of years just to show off how much I have visibly altered since my embarrassing loser high school years.

I find myself strolling everywhere I go with a prepared, crazy-eyed "look at me" expression reserved for beauty queen contestants. All that I am missing is the sparkly tiara.

I also make a side note that my desire to look good naturally multiplies exponentially by a thousand-fold if I so happen to have my eyes set on impressing a particular guy or wish to just see someone who taunted me from the past. I start to envision the rehearsed conversations I would have with these people.

In my ideal world, all of my long-gone loser rivals would regret the crappy way they treated me and the Guy I'm trying to impress would be a dead-ringer for the pop singer Mika. He would be tall, handsome, speaks English with a British accent and, as an added bonus, speaks French fluently. Mmmmmm...

That, of course, is never gonna happen, which is why I hastily stress that this would be part of MY ideal world. But a girl can dream, after all.

To help facilitate the theory, I present to you the findings and statistics of the Chance Encounter Paradox based on my own empirical experiences.

Chart 1: Level of Self-Confidence Based on Elapsed Time

Chart 2: Chances of Meeting Someone When I Look Great

Chart 3: Chances I Meet Someone When I Look Like Crappy High School Self

That is the down side to the Chance Encounter Paradox: the more I desire to see a particular person while I look good, the more the instance of bumping into them decreases. As my expectations rise, I only find myself surrounded by an endless sea complete strangers (people I don't care about). The number of received compliments soon stabilizes to a halting zero. My pride lacks the reinforcement it needs to thrive on. The balance is no longer equal and I soon become a victim of my own pig-headed hopes.

Days pass. Weeks pass. With every day that I apply a layer of lipstick, my hopes go down the drain when I don't see a single soul that I know or care to impress. Looking good, I have discovered, takes a toll on one's state of mind if one does not randomly see the hordes of admiring people from high school. The overconfidence wanes with each application of foundation I put on my face. The hours I spend improving myself seem to be absolutely fruitless if there is no one else to appreciate it. I get discouraged and fall into a mild depression of the "nobody wants me" blues. Mundane activities eventually start to take precedence on my list of important things.

The cycle officially breaks once I deem buying milk to be more essential than fixing my locks.

It is an applied physics rule to human life that when I look great, I never see anyone that I know, and when I decide to look drab, it results in me running into someone that I had been dreaming of impressing.
That's how it always happens.
Every. Single. F*cking. Time.

What happened to college? Where is all the time I spent in France? Where is the God-damned hair mousse? That all went crashing down in flames when I decided to buy milk looking like an adolescent Harvey Two-Face. Thanks to the Chance Encounter Paradox, I reverted back to my un-cool high school self.

I realize that, ultimately, I am only supposed to feel good within myself and with that mentality, my natural beauty and self-esteem will shine through to radiate on those who gawk at me. I must only be content with myself and not base my aspirations on pleasing others/fulfilling unlikely material dreams.

But I'd rather blame my demise on the Milk.

Curse you, Milk. Curse you to heck.


On a more serious note: once I do attain Shakira-hotness, I will be a good candidate for the website Before You Were Hot. That realization helps to keep me level-headed and not spiral back into the Chance Encounter Paradox.

Barb the French Bean