So Much More Than a Paperweight

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

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Paris Meets the Plains

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.

Continue reading Paris Meets the Plains

Cream soda, anyone?

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

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

Even Americans Want a Taste

For better or for worse, there’s no denying that American fast food has become arguably as popular in France as it is back home. If you live in a city, there’s always a KFC, a Pizza Hut, or a McDonald’s in the neighborhood. What’s interesting from an American perspective is how these places can feel simultaneously so familiar and so foreign. The idea, of course, is to take an American brand and make it appeal to a French consumer, so sometimes you end up with some interesting cross-cultural creations. Some are very clear efforts to transform traditional favorites. Take, for example, the one that even made the news back in the States: Continue reading Even Americans Want a Taste

The Tooth Fairy? What Tooth Fairy?

Yesterday, we met up one of my high school friends that I hadn’t seen in probably 15 years! Kate and her family were in Paris as part of a 5-month European adventure that, from all accounts, promises to be one of the best vacations I’ve ever heard about. We talked about their plans over dinner, then splurged on some decadent ice cream for dessert, and strolled through the city under a gorgeous full moon, reliving old memories from our high school days and laughing all the while. It was great catching up with Kate and her husband Jeff, but the icing on the cake was when I got to tell their seven-year-old daughter that …

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THERE IS NO TOOTH FAIRY! Continue reading The Tooth Fairy? What Tooth Fairy?

The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

Le Petit Parisien, Willy Ronis (1952)

Even though I’ve lived in France for almost three years, I’m still pleasantly surprised every now and then by cultural discoveries like …

A Baguette Bag! Continue reading The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

Where’s the Fire?

This weekend, I celebrated my fifth Bastille Day in France, and I’ve done something different every single year. Back in 2007, I was en route from Marseille to Washington after a vacation in Provence: nothing too special to report from the short layover at Charles de Gaulle. In 2009, I picnicked with Michel and his friends in the Bois de Vincennes and happened to catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower fireworks from the Louvre on our way home. In 2011, Michel and I trekked down to Pont des Invalides to watch the fireworks from a better vantage point. They were pretty impressive. Last year, we just stayed home … but by doing so, we got to watch from our window fireworks in four different Paris suburbs: La Courneuve, Le Bourget, Drancy, and Bobigny. This year, we kicked it up a notch. We went to my first ever …

Firemen’s Ball Continue reading Where’s the Fire?

“Signs of Becoming French” (from FUSAC)

Hitchhiking … showing approval … or showing the number “one”?

I don’t reblog very often, but sometimes you come across something that’s just too good not to share. While it’s not really a “blog,” FUSAC is an English-language magazine published in France that caters to those living the expat dream. In the July 5 edition, there was a great little article by Shari Leslie Segall identifying the top 20 signs that you’re becoming French. Of course, I had to read it and do my own personal assessment. I’m happy to report that I’m well on way, with a score of 14 out of 20.

Here’s where it seems my evolutionary process is stalled, though (you need to read the FUSAC article to follow this): Continue reading “Signs of Becoming French” (from FUSAC)

Be Our Guest

A while back, I wrote a little piece about one of the many advantages of knowing “theatre people”: getting free tickets to big shows! Well, last night, I enjoyed yet another perk: getting invited to press previews of upcoming productions. “Which one?” you ask …

La Belle et la Bête

Beauty and the Beast Continue reading Be Our Guest