Just before the end of last year, I wrote what was supposed to be “the last chapter” of je parle américain as you know it, because I planned to transform the blog into something entirely new. As it turns out, I haven’t made any progress with that, so je parle américain has been quiet of late, just “sitting on the shelf” collecting dust — to stay with the literary theme. Sometimes, though, events transpire that simply demand you pick up the pen again — or return to the keyboard as the case may be — and actually finish the story …

Afterword Continue reading Afterword


Closing the Loop

I did it again. I let weeks and weeks go by without writing anything for the blog. I’m sorry about that. I’ve had some news to share with you, but I’ve been (1) busy with the new job, (2) chronically sick with a tenacious springtime head cold and, most recently, and (3) on vacation in the States. Since today marks the one-month anniversary of my last visit to the prefecture, though, I made some time today to share that story with you before it becomes really old news.

Now, if you haven’t read about my visit to the prefecture back in February, you should read it here. It’s too unbelievably good to skip. Go ahead; I’ll wait … Continue reading Closing the Loop

If you can’t say anything nice …

Hey everybody! Guess what? I have my new family visa residency permit! I picked it up this morning at the sub-prefecture in Saint-Denis — the little satellite office of the main prefecture in Bobigny. You’re surely thinking that I must be on cloud nine, right?

Well, read on … Continue reading If you can’t say anything nice …


You’ve probably seen yesterday’s post about my fifteenth visit to the prefecture. It was one of my most widely read posts in a while. If you’re not friends with me on Facebook, though, you’re probably wondering how it all went and whether you can uncross your fingers now. Well, without further ado, here’s the dénouement you’ve been waiting for … Continue reading Dénouement

Fifteenth time’s the charm!

Tomorrow, I’m heading back to the Prefecture. I’ll be submitting an application to renew my residency permit — this time with a change in status from “student” to “private and family life.” Thanks to the Taubira Law that gave us marriage equality in France and the paper-pushing magic of the French embassy in Washington, Michel and I were officially recognized as a family on September 17. We got our family register and a French transcription of our 2010 marriage certificate a few weeks later. Should be pretty simple, then, to get that family visa. Right? We should just have to show them the family register. Right? You know — the document from the French government that PROVES we’re married to each other? Well, if you think that, then you’ve obviously never dealt with the bureaucracy here … Continue reading Fifteenth time’s the charm!

A Watched Pot Never Boils

Believe it or not, it’s back to the prefecture tomorrow. If it seems to you like I’m there four or five times a year, it’s because I am! That said, I can’t complain too much this year considering the wonderful birthday present the French government gave me during my last visit. (Let’s just hope that relatively pleasant experience wasn’t a complete fluke, shall we?) In any case, I’ll be trying something completely new tomorrow, so cross your fingers for me. You see, I may have been here on a student visa for the last three years, but this year, I’m going to ask for a family visaContinue reading A Watched Pot Never Boils

No, I’m not the professor.

Rodney Dangerfield, in Back to School

Today, I went back to school.

“Wait a minute. You’re still taking French classes?” you’re surely asking in utter disbelief. “Shouldn’t you be fluent by now?” Well, no and yes … kind of. I’m done learning French. I’m not fluent, but there are only so many times you can take the same course over and over to “ameliorate your competence” before you get the side-eye. Now, I’m going to Université Paris Descartes to earn my licence. “Licence? What’s that? It sounds like either (1) what you need to drive in France or (2) what you need to practice law there.” Well, no, it’s neither that mundane nor that prestigious. It’s a bachelor’s degree …

“What?! A bachelor’s degree?!” Continue reading No, I’m not the professor.

Your Colleague Said So

Tuesday morning, Michel and I will be heading back across the Atlantic to visit my family and friends. This will be the fourth time that we’ve taken this trip together, so we’re almost professionals at maneuvering the whole process. The first time we traveled together from France to the US in 2011, though, the situation raised an interesting immigration question for me:

As an American carrying an American passport, married to a Frenchman carrying a French passport, and whose marriage wasn’t yet recognized by the federal government, did I have to separate from Michel at border control?

I assumed that he couldn’t come with me in the “US Citizens and Permanent Residents” line, but why couldn’t I go with him in the “Everybody Else” line? Whether they liked it or not, we were a family after all, and I didn’t want our first trans-Atlantic voyage together to end with us being separated. As the occasional LBGT-rights activist that I am, I decided to make a statement. By the time we landed, I had created an imaginary confrontation in my head, and I was almost scrapping for a fight. As it turned out, though, Customs and Border Protection was surprisingly accommodating that day. While I wasn’t allowed to go up to the immigration officer at the same time as Michel — we had to go up individually — I was able to stay in line with him. One of the immigration agents even expressed regret that our marriage wasn’t yet recognized. Aw, how sweet!

Unfortunately, our experience in 2012 wasn’t nearly as pleasant.

Do you remember last year’s post about what I learned from a friendly Border Control agent about importing cheese? Well, this is the story from the same day that I didn’t tell you:

Let’s go back, shall we,
to Sunday, August 26, 2012 …

Continue reading Your Colleague Said So

Diplomatic Pouch

Embassy of France, Washington, DC
© 2005 Thierry Caro, used under GNU Free
Documentation License, Version 1.2

I realized this morning that I haven’t updated you on our efforts to get our DC marriage recognized here in France. Back on May 17, the Constitutional Council (the French equivalent of the U.S. Supreme Court) ruled that France’s newly adopted law opening marriage to same-sex couples was constitutional. The big question for us, of course, was how to get the French government to recognize the validity of our marriage performed in Washington almost three years earlier. We assumed at the time that we wouldn’t have to get remarried in France, but we had no earthly idea how to start the administrative process with the French authorities. SInce then, I’m happy to report, we’ve made headway. Continue reading Diplomatic Pouch