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

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Goin’ to the chapel … the city hall … a meadow?

It’s been a big weekend for civil rights here in France. If you’ve followed our news lately, you’re certainly familiar with the movement known as “Mariage pour tous” (“Marriage for All”). It’s the popular name for a legislative initiative to open marriage to same-sex couples and extend adoption rights to us. After months of vigorous debate and sometimes violent opposition, it was adopted this spring by the National Assembly and the Senate. Opponents immediately challenged the law’s constitutionality before the French Constitutional Council — the equivalent of the Supreme Court in the United States — and we waited for the ruling with a mix of hope and anxiety. Continue reading Goin’ to the chapel … the city hall … a meadow?

Love knows no boundaries.

The moment is finally here. This week, the French National Assembly started debate on proposed legislation that would, among other things, finally extend marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples. That’s why another demonstration for equality was organized for Sunday afternoon, in the wake of January 13’s demonstration against it. Continue reading Love knows no boundaries.

Marchons, marchons

Sunday, December 16 was a big day in the streets of Paris.
It was the day of …

La Manifestation pour l’Égalité
The March for Equality

© 2012 Agissons pour l'égalité
© 2012 Agissons pour l’égalité

About a month ago, I posted an article here about the current debate in France over marriage equality and other family rights for LGBT persons. The government of President François Hollande had just announced a proposed law that would open civil marriage to same-sex couples, and the reaction was quick and malicious. Less than two weeks after the announcement, the opposition took to the streets in Paris and other French cities and — spouting blatant lies and disgusting innuendo about people like me — made their minority view very much heard. The demonstration in Paris even turned physically violent in the face of counter-protest. It was enough to sadden us and anger us … but it was also enough to motivate us to take to the streets ourselves on Sunday afternoon to make our voices heard. Continue reading Marchons, marchons

It’s time.

Photo: At our wedding, July 19, 2010

We just experienced a disturbing weekend here in France. I didn’t see anything negative firsthand but, despite being insulated in my bubble with Michel, I was well aware that forces were mobilizing against us. Both Saturday and Sunday, opponents of marriage equality — ginned up primarily by the Vatican and its conservative allies in France — took to the streets of Paris and several other cities to demonstrate against proposed laws that would grant marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples. If enacted, these laws will finally bring France in line with other Western European democracies like Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, and Portugal. If defeated, same-sex couples in France will remain second-class citizens in their own country.

To be honest, it’s been difficult to follow the news since Saturday; I even get anxious when Michel brings the subject up or when I see something about it in my Facebook newsfeed. Continue reading It’s time.

Nuit Blanche

I’ve been wanting to write about this French expression for a while now, and I finally have the occasion!

Nuit blanche is the French expression for an “all-nighter” — literally “white night.” It refers to a night when you don’t sleep at all, and it could result from any of several reasons — including, importantly for  a student, staying up all night cramming for a test. But for most French, I suspect, a nuit blanche is associated with partying all night long!

<cue Lionel Ritchie>

Since 2002, “La Nuit Blanche” has been used to refer to an annual all-night arts festival in Paris. Every October, the city’s museums, art galleries, and cultural centers open to the public free of charge for an entire night. In fact, the City of Light truly lives up to its nickname by turning itself into an outdoor art gallery with performance spaces and art installations all over the place. The history of La Nuit Blanche is long, but it seems to have been inspired initially by Helsinki’s 1989 “Night of the Arts” and the subsequent wave of such nocturnal arts festivals across Europe. You can click here for some of the history of La Nuit Blanche, and here for a guide to Paris’s most recent festivities on October 6 of this year.

My nuit blanche this week was just a bit different, though …

Continue reading Nuit Blanche

American in Paris arrested for assaulting a man wearing a pink kilt, led away screaming “Hello Kitty is not a clan!”*

Okay, so that’s not a real headline, but it got your attention, right?

My friend Dan Costello, of Washington, DC, wrote that as a comment to my Facebook status Sunday wherein I addressed what I call “the misappropriation of the kilt” in Gay Pride parades. It got the most traffic of anything I’ve posted on Facebook since my posts about Anthony Weiner, so I figured it was a good hook for this post. (Let me know if you’re interested, and I can expound a little.)

Continue reading American in Paris arrested for assaulting a man wearing a pink kilt, led away screaming “Hello Kitty is not a clan!”*