Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures


500th post!!!

I never thought I’d get this far. 500 posts. Freshly Pressed. Almost 20,000 page views. Over 1,000 comments. My post on bachelor cheese was linked on Reddit! What a year.

All of these impressive stats mean that it’s also the perfect time to announce that I’m taking a break for the holidays. Readership is usually down around Christmas / New Year’s and if I wanted to tell stories into a void, I’d just talk to myself (which I do anyway but which requires way less typing).

If I were a better American, I’d post again on January 2. If I were a better Spaniard, I wouldn’t post until well after January 7th. Since I’m just me, the ass between both worlds, I’m splitting the difference and will begin the new year with new things on Monday January 6.

In the meantime, here are some of my favorite posts that you might have missed or would like to revisit. (If you’re a regular reader, perhaps you’d care to nominate a favorite and I’ll link to it too.)

→ Word Mystery: bleach. This one got lost during one of my no-Internet time periods, but I like it.

→ How rabbits and slugs tried to take over my life in 2013.

→ My sister likes yogurt (or whatever the hell it’s called).

→ Read scenes from my in-progress Spanish screenplay about how horrible Spanish people are.

→ The time I mentioned “Bananas in Pyjamas” gets lots of hits, as do many other entries in the Great Word series.

And if you’re feeling festive, here are some holiday thoughts from the Way Back Machine. Remember to keep your holidays shitty!

→ My favorite scatological Catalan holiday tradition.

→ Tonto, Tarzan and Frankenstein wish you a happy holiday season.

Finally, since I started doing this as a joke, here’s my official happy dance. (Click to hear the song, though you really don’t want to hear the song.)

peanut butter jelly time

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God Bless America, Part 3

Prepping for my trip stateside, I proceeded to make lists. If I didn’t have my notebook handy, I’d fire up Any.do, the free app I use mostly for grocery shopping. I usually type in things that the app doesn’t recognize, like chix, which is my abbreviation for chicken, or ous, which is Catalan for eggs. So when I started to type in an item that I love, I was certain it wouldn’t autocomplete. I was wrong.

I don't know what "crunch back" is.

I don’t know what “crunch back” is.

Sadly, Cap’n Crunch’s Oops! All Berries is a limited-time cereal and wasn’t available from FreshDirect or Target.

Happily, when I got to my brother’s apartment, there was a box of the stuff in his cupboards. After recovering from my yell of surprise and contentment, I asked him what in hell it was doing there. “I saw them at the store one time and I thought you liked them but I forgot to mail them. It was a long time ago.”

Looking at the top of the box, the package indicated that the contents had indeed passed their sell-by date several months earlier. (Like, a whole lot of months.) Knowing that the contents were 100% chemical and that the only thing that could possibly happen to them was that they’d start degrading by half-lifes (apparently the correct plural of “half-life”), I opened it up. And ate a couple. And the eating was good, so I poured some into a bowl and washed them down with my Nice! milk. And I ate the whole box over ten days and it was glorious.

Even the milk in America is friendly.

Even the milk in America is friendly.


Word Mystery: success / éxito / réussite

Every Wednesday, I explore the linguistic origins of one word in different languages I speak.

Every image to illustrate "success" is really cheesy.

Every image to illustrate “success” is really cheesy.

Oh, man. What a year. Except for that time that a North European pickpocket caused me to not have an Internet connection for a million years, I’ve been posting five days a week. This feat impresses me, especially since I didn’t really set out to do it any real sense, like, it wasn’t on my To Do List for 2013. It just kind of happened and I’m pretty psyched about having made it this far. I guess I have an endless supply of dumb stuff to share. Like today’s knowledge crumbs!

success — the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. ORIGIN from Latin successus, from the verb succedere [come close after].

éxitoResultado feliz de un negocio, actuación, etc. [Favorable result in a business dealing, performance, etc.] ORIGIN Latin exĭtus [exit].

réussiteBon succès. [Good success.] ORIGIN Borrowed from Italian riuscita [success] from uscita [exit], this from Latin exire [to leave/exit] from ex- + eo [go outside of].

Huh. I’ve got to admit that this is the most puzzling Word Mystery yet. I don’t really understand any of the evolutions, and that they all come from Latin makes it somehow more frustrating. What does leaving have to do with accomplishment? George Costanza is the only connection I can make between the two ideas, and he came a few years after the Latin language developed so I’m stymied.

Today’s Winner: Latin, obviously, since it showed me that just when I thought I was so clever and productive, I’m the same idiot I was when I started writing this damn blog.


Great Word: snicker

snicker — give a smothered or half-suppressed laugh; snigger.

ORIGIN imitative (: reproducing a natural sound).

My post-college best friend and I got to know each other because, like so many before him, he was drawn to my total lack of interest in just about everyone around me. (As we’ve discussed before, this is because I don’t like strangers.)

Back when I was employed in the US, I was temporarily assigned to the cubicle next to his. He quickly found himself trying to see what I was doing since, to hear him tell it, there was a steady stream of snickering coming from my side of the particle board. Whenever he was able to casually figure out what I was reading, he’d try to find the same article and see what was so damn funny. Most of the time, he couldn’t understand what was so entertaining in the A-section of the New York Times but he marveled at my consistent amusement.

A perfect example of something from the NYT that makes me snicker.

This pic and its caption is a perfect example of something from the NYT that makes me snicker.

Once we got to know each other better, he learned that the mystery of my mirth is that I find the funny in everything, a variation on that all-time great whistling anthem. (C’mon! It’s been ages since I mentioned the Python boys!)

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The Loot Was Left Behind

Traveling in the winter is the pits. Navigating an airport with your coat and all your bundling up stuff is annoying enough, but the real issue is that winter clothes take up so much damn space. Buy two sweaters and suddenly your suitcase is filled up and you have to leave behind most of the food you bought.

The real tragedy here is that I had been counting on that food to sustain me during my first 30 hours back in France and since I didn’t have it, I had to actually get out of bed, shower and go buy things to eat which was rough since my getting-over-jet-lag procedure is very clear and doesn’t allow for any of those things.*

Left behind loot

Pictured (and not consumed by me):

  • 2 cereal containers
  • 2 packages of Reduced Fat Wheat Thins
  • 1 box of Cheerios
  • 1 box of Rice Chex
  • 1 box of cinnamon graham crackers
  • 1 bag cinnamon yogurt pretzels (sounded interesting)
  • ½ Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts (I was able to fit one sleeve into my carry-on)

* For the record, the secret to recovery from a westward-originating flight is to get home from the airport, shower, eat something, then take two bottles of water to bed and crash out until the following morning. Somehow, when I wake up again, the water’s been drunk and I feel ready to face the world.