Le cul entre les deux chaises

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


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Summer surprise!

holiday feet

My feet on holiday in 2005.

Soooooo, I’m taking August off from le blog.

I decided to do this out of respect for fellow bloggers and also to prevent my own implosion. For the past several months, I’ve been commuting to and from work for two hours, five days a week, so that’s 10 potential Internet hours gone. Add in all those extra showers I’m taking to cleanse myself of said commute and we’re talking 90 minutes a day gone. Consider that I really need 8 hours of sleep a night to function well (but that I prefer 9 if I can get them) and you start to realize that there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to dedicate to anything for pure amusement.

While I can’t do much to remedy any of the time-sucks in my life for now, I can at least dedicate some of the time I spend writing the blog on reading other people’s blogs and commenting and generally being a part of the virtual world again. I clearly miss you all as real people, interacted with in the real world, are horrible.

Plus, you know, it’s Europe in August as of tomorrow, so I’m embracing my inner-European. And I will actually be going away for a while, to a land where I couldn’t give directions if I tried and I hope to get lost somewhere where I don’t speak the language and can just be an ignorant jerk.

Speaking of jerks, watch this! It’s hilarious!

Thing I’ve been saving since April au cas où

“It failed in July,” said Michael Horodniceanu, the president of capital construction at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “What happens in August in Europe? They said, ‘O.K., we’ll see you after vacation.’ ”

(context is here)

See you in September! Keep posting ’cause I’ll have time to read again!


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Invisible Tattoo Relief

It’s nuts that I feel relief that I never got that invisible tattoo. If I had, over here in Europe it would have become a conversation starter which is the exact opposite thing I would want.

Buttes-ChaumontI thought of this on a recent not-good day that I was trying to salvage by taking a book to the park to read for a while. I was very engrossed in the book when a guy came up beside me and asked very politely if I was Laura. Being the idiot that I am, I took him at his word, assuming that he was meeting someone named Laura. When I told him that I wasn’t Laura, he said, “That’s okay. What’s your name?”

I gave him my best you’ve-got-to-be-shitting-me look, but since I was wearing sunglasses, a lot of the subtleties were lost. “I’m not Laura and I’m not interested,” I said, in what I thought was a terse tone. “Yeah, that’s okay, but I want to know your name,” he insisted.

This is apparently a common French pick-up method, and I must say that I am against it. Many expat females of my acquaintance met their significant others when the guy persistently talked to them while the girls sat at a cafe with a book. It’s possible that men here think they are too charming to resist and don’t understand that in some foreign cultures, “no means no” but that with me, no definitely, always means “I will never want to talk to you ever.”

If anyone has a suggestion on how to definitely repel people, please let me know since I really, really, really don’t like strangers and I’d rather drive 100% of people away than have to deal with one unwanted come on (and they are all unwanted).

Learn two things

Invisible tattoos are actually things that exist (though they’re really just scar tissue). I first heard about them on ELEMENTARY, the recent modern US TV version of the Sherlock Holmes stories. (This is where I mention that despite not being a member of the Baker Street Irregulars, I’ve read all the original stories and know that “Elementary, my dear Watson” is a phrase invented for the movies.)

The above story took place in the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont which I call “Charming Butts Park” because that amuses me. The English wiki page says the name came from what the area was called before Haussmann decided to make it a park, a “chauve-mont” [bare hill], but the French wiki is mum on the origin of the name. I’ll dig around some boxes and see if any of my books can shed light on the tale either way. (I trust books more than internets.)


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The doubling makes all the difference

Here’s some graffiti from central Paris that’s either a misspelled comment on someone having a bubble butt or is about someone who takes exception to Michael Bublé. The beauty of life in Paris is that it could just as easily be either.

Notre-Dame and the spire of Sainte-Chapelle in the background.

Notre-Dame and the spire of Sainte-Chapelle in the background.


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The benefits of Christmas in July

1. If you “celebrate” in July, you can take advantage of les soldes! I was able to get myself some fancy (much-needed) French rubber rain boots 50% off! I love a good deal.

2. It always bothered me in Hollywood movies when kids got bikes for Christmas. I never knew anyone who got one since giving a kid an outdoor toy when there are several feet of snow on the ground is cruel. If you get a bike in July though, it’s the perfect gift!

I got myself a new (second hand) bike to ride to work since my normal bike is way too nice to leave locked up outside all day. This one’s my color (purple!), from my decade (the 80s!) and weighs about 6 pounds (which is nuts!). It’s also genuinely français, so it blends into the Parisian streets. I lurve it a lot and have already gotten it new brake lines and am going to get it a new seat saddle and tires since they also seem to be from the 80s, which is less cool when safety and my butt’s comfort are involved.

My new baby

My new baby

Have a merry weekend!


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INT. METRO STATION, PARIS — EARLY EVENING

A station like this one.

A station like this one.

GIRL is on her way home, her feet leading her along the familiar path to her train. MUSIC playing in her earbuds, she is minding her own damn business (as usual). Suddenly, a feeling comes over her, powerfully drawing her attention to a MAN and WOMAN walking ahead of her to the right.

GIRL
(under her breath)

God – damn – it.

GIRL is pulled into their orbit, despite her keen desire to just get home. GIRL does not want to deal with these people because they are the worst kind of people in the world: Spanish people. GIRL cannot resist the calling she feels in her very DNA and approaches the couple, reluctantly pulling her earbuds out.

GIRL
(in Spanish)

Can I help you navigate the Metro?

The MAN whips his head around to glare at GIRL, his lip already curled in disdain.

MAN

No! I know perfectly well how to navigate the Metro!

MAN makes a dismissive hand gesture, as if flicking GIRL away like a bug.

GIRL is suddenly supremely annoyed and decides to take a few moments out of her day to teach MAN a lesson.

GIRL opens her eyes wide in a look that appears innocent but she laces every word coming out of her mouth with sarcasm.

GIRL

Are you sure you know where you’re going? Because you can’t go down that way.

GIRL has indicated the direction the couple is heading in.

MAN

Yes I can! This is the way to go!

GIRL flits her eyes over to the poor WOMAN traveling with MAN and is not surprised to see that she is meek, embarrassed and unsure how to proceed. GIRL points to the sign directly above the COUPLE’s heads.

This sign

This sign

GIRL

No, you can’t. That way is an exit for the X train line. You actually can not go that way. I can help you get where you’re going if you’d like.

MAN sees the sign, understands that he’s wrong, that he was beaten by a girl. MAN becomes irrationally angry. As his face reddens, a train starts pulling into the platform furthest from where GIRL, MAN and WOMAN are standing.

MAN

See! That’s our train!

MAN grabs WOMAN’s elbow and drags her down two dozen stairs so they can race along the platform to the train. GIRL doesn’t move, she doesn’t run for any trains, and looks on, bemused. GIRL knows that two different train lines are serviced at that platform and that within the same train station, there are two more lines. MAN had a 1 in 4 chance of getting on the right one. GIRL hopes he’s not lucky.