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

525,600 minutes

Every August 15, a big anniversary rolls around.

August 15, 2010 was the day I left the US with big dreams, 130 pounds of luggage, and a one-way ticket to Charles de Gaulle. The days leading up to the anniversary are always full of reflection and nostalgia for me. I spend a lot of time looking back at what I’ve accomplished — or failed to accomplish — but I also look ahead to what the new year might bring my way. It’s a bit like New Year’s in mid-summer.

Two years ago, on my first anniversary as an expat in France, I recounted the beautiful story of what led me to this country in the first place (“The Patience of a Butterfly“). Last year, as my second anniversary rolled around, I waxed rather philosophical about it all, writing about change as the very essence of life (“Every Beginning is Only a Sequel“). This year, I’m doing something quite a bit different. You see, I have a Facebook tradition every August 15: I start a new photo album into which I will post scores of photos of my life during the upcoming year. A few days ago, in preparation for “Ma vie à Paris: la quatrième année,” I was scrolling through last year’s album, and I was reminded of what a monumental year it’s been: chock full of the usual stresses of expat life, of course, but also charged with exciting developments that promise good things to come. This August 15, then, I’ve decided to share with you a little photographic montage of the last 525,600 minutes of my life as an expat — the mundane and the exciting, the frustrating and the promising, even the delicious and the inebriating … and the sentimental, of course. So … how do you measure a year in the life? Continue reading 525,600 minutes

“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)

We Are the World

Lire en français.

Yesterday morning, I woke up early, got myself ready, and went off to my last French class ever. It was the culmination of five semesters of studying French — as Moses once put it — as “a stranger in a strange land.” It’s been a long road, sometimes frustrating, sometimes nerve-wracking, but always fulfilling. I’ve learned a lot these last few years. I often joke that even after four years of French in high school, I could barely string together enough French to order dinner when I first met Michel. Now, I’m now somewhere between a C1 and C2 level of competence, depending on which skills you’re measuring. Grammar is definitely my strong point: on the TCF I took in February, I got a perfect score! I may not be able to speak French that well off the cuff, and I might still have a very noticeable (but hopefully still charming) American accent, but if you put a French sentence in front of me, I can diagram that thing like a pro! That’s probably a good thing, because my next academic endeavor looks like a foray into the world of linguistics at Université Paris Descartes (Paris V).

But I’ve gained a lot more than a second language. Continue reading We Are the World