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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It’s that time of year again


Wool knit cap with shearling fleece lining, cashmere scarf, medium-weight insulated 3/4-length coat, wool-blend hooded sweater, t-shirt, wool skirt, medium-thick tights, leather shoes, fleece gloves.

People I passed on the street:

1. Shorts, sneakers, windbreaker. (Not exercising, just an old guy who didn’t give a merde.)

2. Linen blazer, kicky short skirt, ballet flats.

3. Short-sleeve shirt, corduroys, suede shoes.

4. Button-down shirt dress with a skinny belt, leather strap sandals.

5. Turtleneck shirt, jeans.

6. Silk dress, matador jacket, panty hose, heels.

Moral of the story

Spring came! We’re saved!

Actually blooming things near my house.

Actual blooming things near my house.

Well, except that we’re going to die

Looking out the window, I was so pleased by the change in weather that I decided to pull my bike out and go for a ride. Luckily, I listened to the radio just before heading out. After the forecast, they said that the government was advising people not to exercise outdoors or engage in any physical activity that may be taxing due to TOXIC AVENGER-like air pollution levels. They recommended that neither children nor the elderly should go outside. I decided that, while technically not a member of either demographic, I would hide indoors and not get cancer just from breathing, thankyouverymuch.

You can read more about this at the NYT, see pics on BuzzFeed, read about measures being taken on France Info, revel in The Guardian’s glee at how pissed the French are about those measures, or check out another story that has lots of links.

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Word Mystery: sequin / paillette / lentejuela

Some Topshop frock.

Some Topshop frock.

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

There is pretty much no scenario in which I can organically talk about sequins, so the week following when a bunch of people wore them in Hollywood seemed like the only possible way to get this trio, the third on my list of almost 140 Word Mysteries, into the mix.

Get your dancing shoes on and shimmy on over to the learnin’.

EN → sequin — 1 a small, shiny disk sewn as one of many onto clothing for decoration. 2 (historical) a Venetian gold coin. ORIGIN From second sense, this, chronologically from Arabic sikka [a die for coining], to Arabic zecca [a mint/place for coining metal] to Italian zecchino [pure gold coin].

ES → lentejuelaPlancha, pequeña y redonda, de metal u otro material brillante, que se cose en los vestidos como adorno. [Small, round piece of flat metal or other shiny material which is sewn on clothes as decoration.] ORIGIN Diminuative of lenteja [lentil], this from Latin lenticŭla [freckle, lentil].

FR → paillettePetite lamelle de matière brillante servant d’ornement sur les vêtements. [Small piece of shiny material which serves as decoration on clothing.] ORIGIN From paille [straw], this from Latin palea [chaff, husk].

English note: Ooooh, I like it when there’s a clear progression between the original word and the modern one. It should be noted that sequins are probably only slightly less heavy than actual gold coins.

Spanish note: This makes sense to me, though I would never attach lentils to my person.

French note: A bit confused by this one. I guess that maybe if you slice a piece of straw, you’re left with something small, round and kind of decorative. If you attached a bunch of them together, they might even make a sound like sequins do, but they won’t shimmer and shine.

Today’s winner, despite how I feel about lentils, is English because I really like the idea of just strapping one’s money to oneself to show off.

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Loot 5, Part Deux: The Winter Soldier

Oh man, am I excited about it getting colder this year. I’m not saying that only because it’s been stupidly hot here, frequently in the 90s, but because I can’t wait to deploy my new leg-warming strategies!

Cutting-edge technology I will be sheathed in for the first time this year includes Spanx (falling down tights are among the worst things), SmartWool® (applied fancy sock science) and tights that have fleece inside them! You read that right — there is FLEECE lining the tights. It is entirely possible that these things will surpass the iPod as the thing which most drastically improved my quality of life because FLEECE! + TIGHTS! could = BLISS.

Winter loot

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Pur legende

Lou Reed says that “what becomes a legend most is some bad champagne and foreign bottled beer,” but I think it must be a Tour de France t-shirt that says “100% Legende.”

Much merch,

Much merch.

Of course, Lou Reed is a genuine legend and I’m just a girl who buys t-shirts on the street during international sporting competitions, so what do I know?

Other things Lou knows

Not a legend? Tom Cruise.


Fashion Forward

Finding a bench that wasn’t being rained on, I decided to wait out the storm and take a break. I was happily listening to a podcast when an approaching woman caught my eye. She was wearing sensible shoes, bright purple jersey cotton pants, a long-sleeved t-shirt and a fleece shearling vest. “I wanna be like that when I’m an old lady,” I thought, respecting that she didn’t give a damn about the weather and was clearly dressed for comfort.

In retrospect, she was more like this.

In retrospect, she was more like this.

She sat on the bench next to mine and we were both sheltered for a time. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see that she was moving animatedly and I dared turn my head a bit to see. She was talking and gesticulating wildly, not caring that I couldn’t hear her and had made no move to acknowledge her. I held my ground and didn’t engage her because talking to crazy people is one of the worst things you can do. You will spend the rest of your day trying to get away from them. I know this from experience. Do not engage crazy people.

After a few minutes of rambling, she abruptly stood up and strode across the street, entering the corner bar. I saw my chance, leapt up and ran away, heading down another street towards home.

I need to reconsider my life goals and role models.