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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More adventures in Parisian real estate

Do you think you’re efficient? Are you able to keep an eye on your breakfast while taking a shower? I didn’t think so, but now you can! For only 699€ a month, you can do everything in one space instead of wasting all that time walking across rooms. Toilet sold separately. (Really. It’s in the hallway.)

Appart Adventures kitchen shower 699€

Do you ever take a bath and wonder, “Man, I really wish I could look at the lower half of my body while I’m wet and naked”? Well, now you can! This bathroom comes equipped with the latest in vanity technology — a mirror at crotch level!

Appart mirror

Ladies and gentlemen, look at this kitchen! It’s a chef’s dream! The completely renovated space has all-new appliances including a dish washer, oven with electric cooktop and a full-size fridge! There’s ample storage for all your gadgets and culinary tools. It’s a perfect space! Except the living area is the size of a full mattress and a twin mattress squeezed together. (That is to say, there is no space for actual living.)

Appart Parfait 2

This one may be a personal choice as I don’t like humanoid anythings — dolls, puppets, mannequins, clowns, etc. — possibly due to mean tricks my asshole siblings pulled on me when I was little … but this poorly translated ad totally bothered me for days since I couldn’t stop imaging the horror of what it depicts: a puppet greeting you at the door every day. It’s like some sick Stephen King business.

Pantin is a town outside Paris…and a kind of articulated shadow puppet thingy.

Pantin is a town outside Paris…and a kind of articulated shadow puppet thingy.

Finally, two places that actually have many things going for them. In the first, sadly, one of those features was not an elevator (it’s a sixth floor).

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In the last, the problems are that I can’t afford it and I also hate spiral staircases, but man, those windows are something.

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Kitchen Nightmares

I loved you most of all.

Coke Zero means I don't need you.

Coke Zero means I don’t need you.

Red is my least favorite color. That’s a lie. I don’t dislike red, I hate red. A lot. Just seeing it makes me angry, which is apparently the opposite of what it’s supposed to do. (Color theory info.) For many years, I wasn’t able to get away from red as it was the predominant color in both of my sustaining substances, Coke Classic and Marlboro reds.

Now, I can avoid it pretty well and generally manage to do so, but French interior designers seem to love red. They put it in all over the place, especially kitchens. Here are some screen shots from different listings, all featuring variations on the last thing I want to see ever, and certainly not every day.

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But maybe…

It could be that there are so many red kitchens because no one likes red. That’s why American barns were typically red: it was the cheapest paint color.


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Barcelona real estate

Watching people running around Barcelona and saying deep things like, “Can you imagine living here and seeing this every day?” got me thinking about what living there every day was actually like. The apartment situation was bad. Really bad. So bad that it was a joke used in marketing.

"Bigger than your apartment. Texas BBQ Whopper."

“Bigger than your apartment. Texas BBQ Whopper.” (March, 2006)

So bad that people planned protests (like this one in the fall of 2006) about how hard it was to find affordable housing.

"You're never going to own a house in your whole damn life."

“You’re never going to own a house in your goddamn life.”

Of the many things I don’t miss about Spain, the living conditions are near the top. (The heat would probably be my number one.)


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The worst apartments in Paris!

My Parisian apartment hunting adventures continue! First, we had places to murder unsuspecting women. Then we had places where you could practice all those skills you learned watching “This Old House” and “New Yankee Workshop” (two shows I actually loved as a kid because I am big weirdo). Today we’ve got the worst apartments that somehow made it into my inbox.

See that thing in the corner? That's the WHOLE KITCHEN for this 1-Bedroom, asking 1250€

See that thing in the corner? That’s the WHOLE KITCHEN for this 1-Bedroom, asking 1250€ (!!!)

The combo bathtub-shower-sink-bidet. What a space-saver!

The combo bathtub-shower-sink-bidet. What a space-saver!

LOOK AWAY!! LOOK AWAY!!!

AH, MY EYES!! LOOK AWAY!! LOOK AWAY!!!

This, minus a shower and toilet space, is the ENTIRE apartment.

This is the ENTIRE apartment. Bathroom is communal (shudder).

This place looks nice until you realize that it's a studio and that little cupboard is the kitchen area. Without space for a fridge. Or burner. Or a toaster. Or, well, anything.

This place looks nice until you realize that it’s a studio and the little cupboard is the kitchen area. Without space for a fridge. Or a couple burners. Or a toaster. Or, well, anything.


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Oh, the places you’ll live!

European real estate is a weird thing. In Barcelona, I arrived at my assigned student housing and found that this was my room.

On Carrer de Sardenya, Barcelona 2005

On Carrer de Sardenya, Barcelona 2005

When I’d lived in a dorm my freshman year in college and had to share a tiny cell with a total stranger I still had more space to myself and certainly had more storage. The photo is taken from the doorway and there were no other furnishings in el cuarto. Notably absent was a place to put my clothes. Or my suitcases. Or my books. Or even to sit down and study. It was a nightmare.

And now in France, I have an opposite problem. Toilets here tend to get their own rooms which makes no sense to me.

My toilletes (and yes, it's plural for reasons beyond me).

My toilletes (and yes, it’s plural for reasons beyond me).

It’s a total waste of space, and from a construction perspective, the cost of an additional door and two walls seems irresponsible. If it were a half bath (toilet and a sink), I wouldn’t object so much, but with this design, you are obligated to touch the handle with dirty hands. It’s both excessive and unhygienic which are words that some people might use to describe the French. (But not me! I aime the French!)