A friend I met at my job working as a plus size model at Belk mentioned this place, Coco and The Director. It’s a coffee shop located in uptown at 100 W Trade Charlotte, NC 28202. This coffee shop even has meeting space that would be perfect for dong business and meeting clients as well. Aside from coffee and tea they have pastries, smoothies, alcoholic beverages and sandwhiches.
I didn’t have a chance to check out Coco and the Director beforehand however this past weekend I met up with an old friend who was in town. I wanted to show off some new spots. Coco The Director is actually located inside the Marriott Hotel. There are several innovative options for seating. The staff is welcoming and there are ecclectic people that frequent the shop. Since it was our first time there the Barista gave us a free sparkling water and cupcake. I ordered a wine in a juice-like box and a “Wakeup Call” smoothie. I substituted the coconut water for almond milk. My total came to about $24. I blame it on the alcohol!
As I was paying there was a neighborhood police man who stopped in for coffee. While I was at the counter he shook the tip jar in my face and said why are there no tips in the jar and placed the cup down in front of me. I paid electronically with my debit card and I had already given an electronic tip. Not that I was obligated to give a tip at all. But I just went on about my business. It didn’t really bother me till like four hours later.
The Wake Up Call smoothie was delicious. The cupcake I didn’t really finish, I only ate the bottom part because the icing tasted funny. I couldn’t do that much complaining about the cupcake because it was free. I did mention to one of the staff at the counter that the buttercreme frosting on the cupcake tasted a little like old mustered. The woman at the counter actually said she doesn’t like the way it taste either. I said well the other barista gave it to me for free so I can’t complain the staff looked at each other and paused. I mentioned I did purchase other stuff, at that point the manager overheard the free part and rolled her eyes. I quickly changed the subject and I went back to my seat😂😂 That juice-esq box wine had 12% alcohol in it, all I needed was half. I was lit.
After I met up with my friend I decided to stay a little longer. I noticed some tourist who happened to be asian who were taking pictures from different spots at the coffee shop but I was seated behind them in each photo from every angle they were taking pictures and it pissed me off. I’m almost sure they were taking pictures strategically with me in the photo but you can’t really prove that. I mean have they ever seen a plus size beautiful black American woman before!? They quickly left when I gave them a stern look. I was irritated but I decided to stay a little longer. I had to go to the restroom by that point. I’m blaming that on the alcohol too. The restrooms are located all the way around the hallway out the door to the left in the Marriott. I just left my computer and bookbag there. There was a family sitting next to me. The man said I can’t believe you left your stuff there. He was puzzled. I guess I didn’t think about it. I just took my purse and was willing to risk the rest even my car keys in my coat pocket. He started to ask me what things should he do around town. He said he and his family had just moved to Charlotte last month from Saudia Arabia. He was on a year job assignment and his family lived in Concord. The wife was dressed in traditional abaya dress. They had two little kids who were so adorable. I told them a few places they should check out including Farhienheit resturant, Plaza Midwood neighborhood and they should tour The Vue to see the entire city. They were so nice they gave me some of their cake & blueberries from a fancy resturant to-go bag. I couldn’t see from where. But it was the real deal. So good, better then the crusty free cupcake from the counter. That nice gesture and conversation kinda restored some kindness I had in humanity and lifted my spirits in the most unexpected ironic way. When the family left the baby boy came closed to me and said byeeeeeeee and waved a few times and the family said goodbye as well. My heart was filled. I closed my computer and went home. I parked at the lot around the corner at the 101 Independence Center lot. There is no parking stamps given at Coco and the Director. I’m just sharing my experience, This is not a review. Overall I enjoyed myself and will go again! I left the link to the Coco and the Director Google page for reviews, contact number,directions and pictures as they do not have a website. Here’s the Google link:https://goo.gl/maps/kHJN1urZsCw
I had the pleasure of attending the Women Of Paris walking tour. I wanted to learn more about women writers in Paris. This tour showed me where the successful women writers of Paris lived and created. As a group, we also stopped for some sweet treats along the way.
There were some amazing people in the group (more than a few)..but you know I keep it real. Heidi, The host and founder of the tour company Women in Paris was informative and knowledgeable about the history, which I enjoyed. However, she made one or three chummy jokes at my expense and she didn’t get a Trip Advisor review from me. Although I still do recommend the amazing tour, it was all in European humor and fun… I guess what goes around comes around because we had a child psychologist from Vancouver in the group, I jokingly asked her for an impromptu therapy session. The joke did not go over well and the child Dr. And her friend literally did not talk to me for the rest of the tour😂Thank God there were some cool people with a good sense of humor in the small group, like Tom and Angela, the newlyweds from Seattle. Tom works in real estate and awesome Angela is an attorney with great colorful hair. We have since kept in contact via Facebook! Last but not least in the group my spirit twin and buddy, Wonjeung!!! from South Korea, who is a student studying computer science. Wonjeung and I ran around Paris all day after the tour and it was good to run the streets and talk about our Paris experience. We still keep in contact online and send holiday cards!
Now that you have all the group dynamics, here are all the accomplished women that were discussed on the walking tour and the places we visited for our snacks. I’ve included some pictures of the tour below! Women Writers of Paris:
The brilliant Simone de Beauvoir and her daring activism,
The radical Antoinette Fouque and her Editions des Femmes,
The scandalous Colette and her struggle for independence,
The rebellious George Sand and her cross-dressing liberalism,
The benevolent Sylvia Beach and her love of literature…
Popelini Chou à la créme / Meert Waffle / Un Dimanche à Paris Macaron / Pierre Marcolini Chocolate / La Tarte Tropézienne Baby Trop
Finally, I made it to France. I was ready to settle into my Airbnb French abode. So . Ready 123…I was so happy to arrive. The host’ main language was Portuguese. They were a husband and wife team from Brazil. The language created a small barrier to communication but we were able to get through it. I arrived in a personal cab. Although I was scared for my life and my wallet. But, the cab driver seemed alright despite his body odor! I didn’t have cash so the taxi had to take me to the nearest ATM once we arrived at the Airbnb location. The host husband told me later not to take personal cabs because they could be part of the mafia. He suggested that I take Uber instead. The host wife couldn’t make it out to meet me so the husband went over the house instructions. After 30 minutes I was ready for a nap! I felt like the place was pretty clean and I was happy the place was as pictured. Just a couple of things arose…..
I noticed some ants on the kitchen counter but it didn’t seem that bad. Coming from living in the south in Miami, Florida, I was just glad the ants weren’t roaches. If there’s one creature I can’t stand that’s a dang roach. Those things don’t even deserve life. I digress, the ant problem continued. so I decided to get the bottom of it. There was a loaf full of breadcrumbs left in the bottom of the toaster and sugar cubes in a gappy container left on the counter as well. I opened the sugar container and a bundle of ants flew out. I kept saying to myself at least it’s not a cocka-roach, at least it’s not a coca roach, Amen. So I emptied the dish of sugar and the breadcrumbs from the toaster and voila, no more ants!! Problem solved….. I also purchased some bug spray.
I noticed that there was not a flat sheet on the bed just a comforter and the under sheet. I’m not a sheet expert but there were two sheets there. I was used to 3. I thought maybe it was a difference in culture perhaps. I looked in the closet and there were a few folded sheets with some hair on them and the sheets smelled of smoke but I just brushed it off and put the sheets on the bed since it was getting late. I was getting a little hungry but didn’t even know how to get to the nearest store. Luckily there were a few leftover unopened snacks in the fridge and the host husband gave me a bottle of water, a bottle of wine and 3 rolls of fluffy toilet paper. It was the best I was going to do for the first night. I eventually found out that everything in this secluded part of town, La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, closed early so if I wanted food then I had to get it before dark. Everything was going normally for a few days and then the garage door broke. It started to just go in all different direction and then it just didn’t move at all. Apparently, this has happened before.
The neighbor came by and started working on fixing the garage door. At first, I was like what a nice neighbor! His wife stopped by and I was able to practice my French as the neighbors didn’t speak any English. The garage door eventually was fixed and the neighbors invited me out to dinner. I was so happy because I still didn’t find where all the food was and it was great to meet some nice people. We were able to communicate just fine over a bottle of wine and Chinese buffet. That’s my kinda night! It was July 14. Which was Bastille Day in France. It’s the French equivalent to July 4th. So after dinner, the neighbors and I went to see the neighborhood fireworks! How fun…..But things quickly headed in a different direction a few days later…..
The host wife wrote me on Airbnb and said they will make sure the garage door was fixed and not to worry. She would check the door on Sunday. She told me she wouldn’t enter the home and she had extra keys to the house. I told her okay I had an event to attend and would not be there. The previous day the neighbor fixed the door and had been knocking on the door all day for me to look at each update. The door had been fixed before Sunday, so I didn’t think the host would come and check the door. I was a little jet lagged still and didn’t get out to my event as early as I planned. I was napping, (my favorite hobby) and all of a sudden I heard knocking at the door. I wasn’t expecting anyone and I wasn’t presentable to come to the door as I was half asleep. Still, the knocking persisted and soon it turned into banging on the windows. I heard someone yell up to the window in a sweet soft voice– TEEENA TEEENA. I then got an e-mail notification I had a message on Airbnb from the host. The wife said, Tina, we are at the door we just wanted to drop off some items for the house… I was still under the covers. The knocking got louder and louder at this point I didn’t want to open the door because I felt invaded. I jumped out of bed opened the door and I said yes? I am just about to get into the shower. I closed the door. The knocking persisted. and when I was done with my shower I started packing to leave. I opened the door again and the host rushed in with the items. All the while I heard all the neighbors talking in French about me they were all gathered outside the door. I felt so upset at this point that I started packing the rest of my things. The house owners had moved on to the couch with the house items an iron, ironing board, fan, hot water maker and some cleaning rags. They were putting together the fan. I said well, I am going to my event. and we all moved out of the house. I left my things packed hoping that Airbnb would let me out of my 5 week rental agreement before I returned. I left to go to my event hoping that was the end of that terrible and uncomfortable invasion of boundaries.
The host wife wrote me a note on strict instructions that she was unhappy, She explained how I have to close the security door and lock the door that needed a million twisted and turns to lock. As a Realtor, it was even hard for me to lock it. But I thought the security alarm and the steel door and window shutters would be enough. It was so hot I left the top floor windows cracked open on the tall two-story home. I didn’t think anyone would jump to the top floor to break in and they would have to be Superman to do that. But the host wife was very upset about what she saw… me not closing the top windows and not locking the tricky door although the steel door was secured. She said look at it from her perspective. I definitely understand having a stranger in your house for 5 weeks and not being able to have access to your own house. Scary…well if they wanted to still have access to their house then I could’ve just have been a house guest, not a paying renter with rights. right? I wrote her and explained that if I didn’t look at it from her perspective I would never have replied to her email and I would’ve left immediately. I said if she wanted to stop by just drop me a note as most likely I would not be there. The wife said in spite -well enjoy the rest of your trip! But she continued to watch every story on my Instagram feed. She requested to be Instagram friends but she didn’t allow her Instagram feed to be open to me. I started to put two in two together. French people aren’t that friendly (at least initially). The neighbors didn’t take me out to dinner because they were being gracious they were taking me out to dinner to ensure I didn’t write a bad review and they were monitoring me. That’s when I noticed the windows had steel shades that were half drawn. There was no way to move the shutters up or down but when I looked out of the shutters I could see the shutters were exactly in line with the neighbors window. When I took shower I saw another neighbor looking in the bathroom window in the shower. I know how this sounds! But seriously, every time I took a shower, I looked at the old man neighbor down the street he looked away like he wasn’t looking and every time I checked back he was looking again. There were also cameras in the house. When the host husband was showing me the house on day one, I asked him what was that camera there for. and he took it and turned it around to face the wall……
Airbnb didn’t get back to me until days later to address the owners smooth attempt to overtake moi, a napping jetlagged renter. Airbnb said they couldn’t move me to another place without checking in with the host to mediate first. How good would that be for someone in their house? I said just forget it… Since then the neighbors never came out of their house, if I did see them they would turn their backs to me. The host also said oh, the fan didn’t work we took it back. I had a heat rash because t was so hot but eventually, I bought my own fan! Petty boots!! (and I left it there as a parting gift at the end of my very long 5-week visit).
While I was still renting I’m the home I didn’t contact the host for a few weeks until I needed to get some mail. She said all the mail comes to the house if I put the correct address on the package. (petty shade) Then she sent me a note with a screenshot of all the accounts I use she said I sent it to her but I did not send it to her screenshot had my accounts including Evernote, Hotmail, and my internet provider it was weird. Still hoping I would get my package at this very moment. (as I am writing I will not post this until I check out of this place for sure!) At times I wished I could have handled it differently I wish I could have upheld my boundaries while still respecting hers without offending anyone. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the time. I felt my boundaries were pushed. I feel like I could have considered her feelings as it was her home but not respecting my own. I wanted to save face with the neighbors as maybe they were just being nice after all. The host said I have never dropped over items before… Perhaps I did overreact? At the very least I wish I wrote her back online at the time and said I’m in the shower and unable to come to the door please leave the items in the storage cabinet in the garage I’ll get it when I come back from my event. I sometimes think of better ways to handle weird situations after the situation happens. I’m getting better at finding on time solutions. If I handled with a direct email then my privacy would not have been invaded and I would still respect hers….. my rule still stands as Kermit says when you at my door knocking and you didn’t call first!!..you ain’t getting in! That’s the best I could do for that day. It doesn’t matter how bad you are at first at setting your personal boundaries but as long as you start somewhere.
When I returned to the states the owners attempted to charged me for a broken front door that was already broken into from the previous neighbors, according to the owners who revealed this to me in a written Airbnb online message. They claimed there was dog poop left, however, I cleaned up after my dog and I took out the trash 3 times a week and I even took out the trash for the previous guest who the wife host told me were so messy. Apparently, this is her go-to phrase as she said the same thing after I left although the house was perfectly clean. Her vacuum was disgusting and I didn’t know how to work it so I had to sweep the dog hair up and a lot of it was hard to retrieve but that was the only thing that needed to be cleaned up. She went through Airbnb to request money from me for the “damages” she requested $600. I sent pictures of the home cleaned as I knew this was not the end of this situation so I took pictures of the home right before I left as I had a feeling I would hear from them again. Airbnb did not protect me, the renter. The house was so far out from Paris I wasted a lot of time and energy in this prison with locked windows, doors and cameras and on the time to take the train going to Paris. I removed my credit cards from the Airbnb site and they were not able to collect payment from me so they said they would drop all attempts to collect the money as they should of done from the start.
I felt that their response should have been we see you’ve done nothing wrong and we are not going to attempt to collect any money from you because you were not at fault based on the evidence you have provided including picture and emails.
All in all, looking back, trying to positively reframe my experience I’m glad that I experienced the town of La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, as no one spoke English there and I spoke a lot of French that way. The hour train ride into Paris allowed me to gain perspective on my day. I learned about my personal boundaries and that it’s probably best to just get a hotel at the end of the day and that’s what I did the next time I visited Paris!
Here are pictures of the Airbnb, the peeping tom window that I covered to take a shower, the cameras, the items the owners brought as they sat on the couch to put together, and pictures of the town me and Webster
Le Comptoir is a popular French bistro located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris in St Germain. I Googled recommended restaurants to dine alone, but, don’t feel sorry for me as I found the perfect place. I was able to skip the long waiting line because I just needed a table for 1.
The restaurant that came up in my search was called L’avant Comptoir which is standing room only. However, because I wanted to enjoy the people watching and 3 courses I walked a few steps away to Le Comptoir. Both restaurants are owned by the same family just next door to each other.
Le Comptoir was full of Americans and bilingual staff. I asked the waitress for menu recommendations and she didn’t lead me astray! I started with a glass of white wine, Bien sur. Next course was Foie Gras, a French staple. Later I would find out this choice did not sit well with me… I’ll leave it at that. Luckily, I was able to easily continue on to the next course. Cochon De lait Braise de roti lentilles de ragout was outstanding and highly recommended. I’ll admit it does not look like much but it definitely favorably ignited my pallet. I’m a sucker for some apple pie a la mode. The next course, dessert, is the French version of Apple pie called Tarte Fine aux Pomme, Glace Vanille. Amazing choice. Even though they charged me for water although I’m sure I said sink water and the Foie Gras was not my jam I highly recommend Le Comptoir! I will definitely check it out the next time I’m in Paris. Check out the menu, prices, and pictures of my plates below!
I’m missing France, especially the South of France. I miss the beach. Perhaps the company or attention…. I’m missing all of it but who wouldn’t. I thought of 100 ways I could go back there this afternoon but none of them worked in reality. So I’m here looking at pictures I took just a few weeks ago. Now I’m across the world back in the USA. Don’t get me wrong I appreciate having my own bed, car, a paycheck and the option to fall back on my first language but the beach neva’ did anything wrong to me and I miss it. That is all.
In the past, I held on to everything, old receipts (where the print had become virtually undetectable), obscure electronic plugins (that I have no idea what electronic item they actually attached to), old clothes, socks and earrings without a match. EVERYTHING! However, at the age of 36 years old I was seemingly ready for a new life. It seems so easy writing it now, I’m ready for a NEW LIFE, yeahhhhhhhh! READY 123. But it was probably the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life.
This life transition was a process that started before I even knew it began. I think I started to become Slightly aware I just signed up for a life change when I was smacked dab in the middle of the transition. I had been working on a real estate project for Tiny houses in Charlotte. The Tiny house project inspired me to research this minimalist lifestyle. That’s when I found the movie Minimalism on Netflix. The movie was a game changer. I began to slowly get rid of small items in my environment and clear my space. Again I had no idea the journey I was embarking on at that point. I thought I was just doing some research!
After months of delays and project setbacks, the tiny house deal fell through. Okay more like I fell through the deal. A change of direction was abruptly implemented, the change was me. I didn’t like how I was treated and I didn’t like how I responded to the way I was treated and either did the builder and his Best buddy the loan officer. I cried in front of my boss. I felt unprotected. More on that painful life lesson later! …Long story short the tiny house project never took off and my former real estate agency is no longer working on the tiny house project at all. In fact only 1 house out of the initially projected 80 to 60 homes have been built. Although I support the tiny house movement (in theory) leaving after it wasn’t working out was truly a blessing in disguise. I ended up selling a home to a young first time home buyer who initially was interested in purchasing a tiny house ( she attended my tiny house party event). Her beautiful full sized home I sold her was for the same price of a tiny home! But I digress… That wasn’t the real journey. I was still on the journey I was intended to be on, the one I didn’t know …I was on. I just didn’t know that the tiny house project was simply a catalyst for change that helped me focus on my true journey. Comprenez vous? I had to separate from the project I was entangled in because I never would have let go if the choice was left up to me. I wish there was another way but I have trouble letting go….
Back on my journey, the one that I didn’t know I signed up for or couldn’t find the initial details to what I was to do exactly, that’s the one. I began to move on to what I felt in my heart. I followed my gut. My last words after my… let’s call it “a change in direction meeting” in a teary voice I simply said I want to travel and write. And that’s what I did. I started to see what else could be eliminated from my life. I needed to eliminate everything that was holding me back from my future. I sold my very own home and everything in it. It was a deal I never wanted to make. I would be fine just continuing on in my life as it was, but it wasn’t the life that was intended! So after being pushed to the corner just before the ledge, I jumped, I let go screaming & kicking all the way …UP
Finally, I received a 12-month visa to France. But A lot has changed in the months that I set out to move to France for 12 months. I put so much work into getting the visa that I feel a celebration is in order, however…. at this time the 12 months stay in France has been reduced to just 6-weeks! I know- that’s great! I don’t know a lot of people that would complain about spending 6 weeks in France. My plan was to sell everything become a Minimalist, practice and learn fluent French, and write my books. I needed the 12 months!! Now I am scurrying to do everything in the time I have. By “scurry” I mean sleeping in and staying up watching french tv all night.
None the less- I managed to join a writing group and start writing in a span of 7 days. Perhaps this 6-week “time constraint” was the way it was intended all along…!
Let me share my experiences and travel stories as a solo traveler in France, well by solo I mean traveling with my dog Webster and I! Welcome.