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 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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My first expat Christmas

My roommate's attempt at making me feel at home. He didn't know I hate Christmas. (Please note that the boxed jamón at left is almost as tall as the tree.)

My roommate’s attempt at making me feel at home. He didn’t know I hate Christmas. (Please note that the boxed jamón at left is almost as tall as the tree.)

I was in Barcelona and had no plan. I didn’t yet understand that EVERYTHING closed on holidays in Spain. I didn’t realize that even if people hated their families, they spent ALL NIGHT with them. I wasn’t prepared to deal with the total desolation of my neighborhood as everyone I knew went to their pueblos [hometowns].

I spent the evening with a couple friends, one of whom had a car. We drove up to Tibidabo, the small mountain range behind the city that seems like it wants to push Barcelona into the sea. There’s an impressive-looking church there, the Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazón.

Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazón, Dec 2005

Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazón, Dec 2005

My friend, who is a professional photographer, offered to take my picture but didn’t like where I’d chosen to pose. I tried to explain that I wanted to be hidden. I told him that people who knew me would recognize the outline of my Russian-style hat since I’d had it for ages. He really didn’t want to do it, but it turned out perfect.

I can totally tell what clothes I'm wearing too.

I can totally tell what clothes I’m wearing too.

Everything was closed down, but the merry-go-round was creepily lit up and running. There didn’t seem to be anyone minding the place, so my thoughts immediately went to Scooby-Doo type scenarios. (There were probably two kids smoking pot in the bushes and watching the wheel go round and round.)

Maybe it was meddling kids who'd turned it on?

Maybe it was meddling kids who’d turned it on?

It was a weirdly peaceful evening. Excepting the lack of food options, it was pretty nice as far as Christmases go.


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Word Mystery: Christmas / Navidad / Noël

Wednesdays, I explore the linguistic origins of the same word in different languages. This week is all about that most rockin’ of holidays, so our WM is clear.

2013 Xmas doorTrue Story

On December 11th of 2013, I walked out my apartment and locked the door. As I pulled the key out and turned to head to the elevator, I saw my neighbor’s door and heard myself say, “Bah!”

Except for the being super-wealthy, miserable and unhappy, I am totally a Scrooge.

EN → Christmas — the annual Christian festival celebrating Christ’s birth, held on December 25 in the Western Church. ORIGIN Old English Crīstes mæsse.

ES → NavidadNatividad de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo. [The birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ.] ORIGIN Latin nativĭtas [of Christ, birth, nativity].

FR → NoëlFête de la naissance de Jésus-Christ. [Celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.] ORIGIN Latin natalis dies [day of birth].

English note: how much of a heathen am I that I never put together the Christ’s Mass thing? A really big one. This doesn’t even count as a rabies since there is honestly no way I will ever make religious connections on my own. Hell, I didn’t even see all the Christian messaging in The Chronicles of Narnia until I was a teenager!

Spanish note: I never liked that “lord” and “señor” are equivalents in some instances, but that’s ‘cause I don’t like anyone to think they can lord over me. I’m independent! You can’t oppress me!

French note: logical, inoffensive and not originally all Christ-y. The clear winner. So clear, you could navigate three suspiciously ethnically diverse dudes on camels by its light.


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Word Outlier: tree

Tree in Place Vendôme, December 2013

Tree in Place Vendôme, December 2013

It’s Christmas-in-July all week! Get festive!

O, Christmas Tree
O, Christmas Tree
…why are you a “tree”?

EN tree —a woody perennial plant, typically having a single stem or trunk growing to a considerable height and bearing lateral branches at some distance from the ground. ORIGIN Old English trēow, trēo: from a Germanic variant of an Indo-European root shared by Greek doru [wood, spear] drus [oak].

The Spanish árbol and French arbre both come from the Latin (of course) arbor. Despite generally being annoyed with Latin (it’s in everything!), I find the English evolution to be suspect. I no longer like the word “tree.”