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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The Endorsement: Citymapper app for New York

citymapper wins logoThe situation: You are in New York City. You want to go places but like to take the fastest/cheapest/greenest/most efficient route because you don’t have time to lose.

The solution: The Citymapper NY app. Earlier this year, it won the MTA’s own App Quest competition for being the app that best integrates most of the city’s transit possibilities into one spot. (That’s subway, bus, Citi-bike, rail, walking, taxi and a surprise mode of transit.)

It’s a pretty perfect app for locals who already have a sense of where they are and where they’re going, but for tourists or visitors, it has only the info you need and not a bunch of other stuff. The biggest innovation is that Citymapper integrates real-time updates to the system so that you don’t need to keep track of when a line or station is being serviced, or if there’s work on the tracks. The app does it all for you.

citymapper-new-york 2Additional advantages: Once you’ve installed it, you can add a bunch of addresses to the very clean map within the app and then plot your routes to and from any location. You can then *save* these routes for offline use which is a *key* feature if you don’t have a data plan. And the map will still zoom in and out, even if you’re offline which seems like a simple thing until you use every other app and realize that it’s not a standard feature.

Only complaint: they haven’t made a version for Paris yet, but London (that dump!) is available and presumably equally awesome.

The knowledge (yes, that’s a London joke): Download the free app for iPhone and Android here.

Another tip for visitors

If you’re a world traveler, I’m assuming you have an unlocked phone so I’m working from there. If you go to the US, find a local T-Mobile store and buy an American SIM card ($10) and get a pre-paid credit on it. There are several different rates available but I’m partial to the month-long one (which is usually $30) as I’m never in country that long and it’s pretty unlikely that I’ll use all the text- and talk-time in a couple weeks.

"Diane -- my life would be improved if you provided me with this app. Get on it!"

“Diane — my life would be improved if you provided me with this app. Get on it!”

I recommend T-Mobile over other carriers for a few reasons: the company isn’t horrible like AT&T; it doesn’t have shitty customer service like Sprint; and they don’t require a local address or proof of residence to register the number (you do have to provide ID). They make buying a SIM super easy and the other big companies have historically given me a hard time, trying to sell me a disposable phone or up-selling a bunch of crap I don’t need. T-Mobile recognizes that a customer may come back if they don’t hassle you. (They may also suspect you’re a spy or criminal and want to claim plausible deniability after you’re arrested, but that still works in your favor.)


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Loot 4: This Time, It’s Personal

After the nightmare that was just getting this damn box into my grubby little paws, here’s what I’ve got to show for it

Loot 4

8 kiwis grown by my mom’s neighbor in Spain (??)
6 dish sponges from Mercadona (amazing Spanish grocery store)
2 bottles proteina de seda (I think this is glycerin in English)
2 bottles aceite de almendras (another moisturizer)
1 Samsung Galaxy Mini 2
1 case for Samsung Galaxy Mini 2
1 pack sticky-tabs (skinny Post-Its)
1 pack assorted sticky notes
1 French crossword book (which I will not be able to do)
assorted newspaper clippings and articles
safety pins

Here’s what the contents of this package reveal about me:

  • I take cleaning so seriously that I import my dish sponges. (They really are THE BEST I’ve ever used.)
  • I also take my moisturizing seriously.
  • I believe that you can never have enough big safety pins.
  • My mother (apparently) loves locally grown fruit a lot.
  • My mother never met a newspaper she couldn’t turn into clippings to send to her children.