Celebrating 225 Years! What do you have planned?

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Today is my sixth Bastille Day (or as the French call it, “la Fête du Quatorze Juillet” or “la Fête Nationale“) on French soil. Although it’s a big anniversary — the French are celebrating 225 years of no more Bastille — I sort of missed out on the fireworks last night. I had bailed on a dinner/fireworks-viewing party earlier in the day because I was feeling under the weather, and our apartment in La Courneuve offered a less than optimal vantage point for the municipal fireworks display. I could still hear them, though, as well as all the fire crackers being tossed in the street below my window! There have been other events, of course, including the big parade down the Champs Élysées this morning, but we didn’t watch that either. The only thing we have planned, in fact, is a long walk in a park to get some exercise and fresh air. It seems like catching the French air force’s practice flights over Le Bourget yesterday afternoon is about as festive as it’s going to get for us this year … Continue reading Celebrating 225 Years! What do you have planned?

Fourth Fourth

Captain America © 2011 Samuel Michael Bell

Today is my fourth Fourth of July in France. For my first Fourth, I got on a soapbox. For my second Fourth, I waxed sentimental about who was eating my apple pie. For my third Fourth, I tried to make you laugh. So … what’s on the agenda for my fourth Fourth?

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So Much More Than a Paperweight

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Chapter 3 of
My Life as an English Teacher in France

A few weeks ago, we commemorated the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. I decided not to write a new article about that momentous day; instead, I shared two earlier articles about the history of the landings and about my first visit to Omaha Beach. Normally, that would have been the end of je parle américain‘s D-Day commemoration, but something subsequently happened at work that I need to share … Continue reading So Much More Than a Paperweight

Paris Meets the Plains

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My French mother-in-law is absolutely enamored of Native American culture: the music, the dance, the clothing, the history. So, when French Mother’s Day rolled around this year, we did something very out of the ordinary for us. Instead of having dinner or lunch around the family table, we took a trip to the Musée du Quai Branly to see an exhibition on the Plains Indians of the American West. Knowing my mother-in-law, there really was no better way for us to celebrate the day with her. It was a special moment for me as well — as her American son-in-law — to share our mutual appreciation of the native peoples of my homeland.

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“Don’t forget your home-work, darling!”

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Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of …

My Life as an English Teacher in France
(Chapter 2)

So, as you know, I’ve been working as an English teacher in Paris for about four months now. In that time, I’ve had some interesting experiences. This week, though, I had the experience to beat all experiences …  Continue reading “Don’t forget your home-work, darling!”

My Life as an English Teacher in France: The Saga Begins

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Hey everybody!
I’m back!

I know what you’re thinking: “Where in the world have you been?!” It’s been almost two months since my last post, and some of you certainly started to wonder what had become of me. Well, you can now rest assured that I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth, I haven’t been deported from France, and I haven’t given up on je parle américain. I’ve just been very busy the last few weeks. More French classes? Writing that historical novel? Well, no … I’ve been working … finally … as an English teacher.

Continue reading My Life as an English Teacher in France: The Saga Begins

Cream soda, anyone?

The root beer one is on the far right.

Saturday evening, we went to a little Christmas party with friends, which featured a “White Elephant” gift exchange. Just like last year, we each had to bring a gift that cost less than 5€. Michel and I ended up with a set of six “tapas glasses” — which we’re going to use as lowball glasses — and a box of …

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Bottle Caps

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Continue reading Cream soda, anyone?

Back in the Kitchen

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In my last post, I mentioned that I’ve now spent four Thanksgivings in France. I think it’s probably the time of year when I feel most like an American expatriate. What I mean by that is that it’s the day when I feel the pangs of homesickness most acutely. Thanksgiving’s not a holiday here, of course, so I get pretty nostalgic watching my Facebook newsfeed fill up with status updates from back home about thankfulness, good food with family and friends, and even travel headaches. Looking back across the Atlantic at what you’re missing can easily give you the blues … which is why expats just have to make Thanksgiving right where they are! To be frank, I haven’t always succeeded on that score. Out of the first three Thanksgivings I spent on French soil, only the first featured a traditional American feast, so it really was high time for me to get back in the kitchen … Continue reading Back in the Kitchen

Tiny Little Chewy Cakes

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They look like bundt cakes, but they’re less than two inches tall. Even so, they pack a wallop of deliciousness. They’re canelés, which have become — hands down … or rather “out” for seconds — my favorite French pastry: pure heaven made from flour, eggs, milk, butter, sugar, vanilla, and sometimes rum. Continue reading Tiny Little Chewy Cakes