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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Links Day

On this day, God said, “Let there be links!” and there was much rejoicing.

→ The most miserable US states, according to a 2013 Gallup poll. I admit that I’m disappointed that the state I grew up in is not number 1. Makes me think they didn’t collect enough data ’cause that place is the worst.

Links!

Links!

→ What would the world be like if ads were replaced by art? Pretty great, I’d say after looking over Etienne Lavie’s “OMG who stole my ads ?” project.  [h/t]

→ Apparently, everyone else in the world is washing their hands wrong. If I were still as germphobic as I was when I lived in the US, this would seriously disgust me. As things stand now, I’m just disappointed in you.

→ People have always (weirdly) been drawn to me, and Mike White (actor / director / screenwriter / AMAZING RACE contestant) may know why. He says he wants people to see him and think,

“Oh, he seems like he’s having a good time. Maybe he has the secret to something that I haven’t figured out.” 

(I’m totally not telling you the secret.)

→ National flags made out of each country’s typical foods. Warning: this will make you hungry. 

→ Jenny Lawson, blogger extraordinaire and author, is someone you should be reading. She’s funnier and more foul-mouthed than I am though we feel the same way about the Important Things In Life, like The Princess Bride.

“I used to think that it was a small sin to waste time rereading silly books you’ve already read. . . but then I grew up and realized that those things were the only things that mattered. . . I’ve decided to give up on caring about wasting time and, in doing that, I’ve suddenly saved so much time I would have spent hating myself for reading The Princess Bride for the 89th time.”

Amen, sister. 

→ British actors with fantastic voices reading aloud. They make even the poetry palatable. 

desmoinespolice→ Buildings that used to be Pizza Huts were featured on the great 99% Invisible podcast. I ate so many free pepperoni personal pan pizzas in buildings just like the one pic’d at right as RIF / Book It! rewards. I wish I could still get free stuff just for doing things I like. 

→ I don’t have tattoos because I think they’re a bad idea. My friends who have them all regret the decision to varying degrees, the most mild being, “I don’t really mind this one too much.” A column in the NYT Magazine nailed my issue with scarring yourself with colors:

“Getting a tattoo is a way for your past self to exert power over your present self.” 

Your past self is always an idiot compared to your now-self. Knowing this when you’re younger helps prevent mistakes in the future. This is the reason I’m not on Facebook.

Next Week

In honor of the Academy Awards (which are this Sunday), I’ll be doing all movie-related posts next week. I can’t keep track of basic holidays (or even my birthday) but I mark the Oscars and the BAFTAs in my calendar because those are important (to me). Priorities, people. We’ve all got them.


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Word Mystery: hug / abrazar / étreindre

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

Click me.

Click me.

One of the more American things about me is that I do not like physical contact very much. I have my dance space, you have your dance space. If I’m in line for something, I have an invisible bubble around me that I don’t want to share with you. When I meet someone for the first time, I want them to be satisfied with a handshake or a nod.

None of these personal desires count for anything over here. There is so much touching all the time. If I actually think about it, I feel a little sick because people just do not wash their hands enough and I don’t know where anyone’s mouth’s been and it’s just too gross to actually think about.

Everyone is so hell-bent on physicality that they even sign off written correspondence with assaults on your person. Initially, it was too much for me. Reading a message from someone I barely knew that ended un abrazo made me recoil a bit because I felt like they were invading my space through the screen.

Now, let me encroach upon your personal space by spreading my digital arms around your brain and massaging some knowledge into your gray matter.

[General note: these are only the verbs forms and not the nouns or more colloquial ways of expressing this idea.]

EN → hug — hold someone tightly in one’s arms, typically to express affection. ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: probably of Scandinavian origin and related to Norwegian hugga [comfort, console].

ES → abrazar —  ceñir con los brazos. [Encircle in/with arms.] ORIGIN Brazo [arm] from Latin brachĭum [arm].

FR → étreindreserrer quelque chose, quelqu’un, le saisir fortement en l’entourant de ses membre, empoigner. [Hold something or someone, hold tightly in one’s arms, grasp.] ORIGIN Latin stringere [draw tight].

English note: “Hugga” should be the name of some cozy brand of clothes, like the OnePiece which I just learned about and am in love with.

Spanish note: I am surprised to learn that brazo has no connection to “branch” or “bronchi”. In my mind, they were all kind of related in an abstract way.

French note: I don’t speak Latin, so I’m not sure how one would pronounce stringere properly, but it bears commenting that Stringer Bell was wont to draw things tight.

Today’s Winner is English, since it’s the only one that’s kinda fun.

Not all hugs are terrible

Shel Silverstein, the writer and illustrator, bears mentioning here for his poem “Hug O’ War”. I’ve always loved his books and am pleased that there are no dark secrets in his life to taint the memory of his work.


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Word Outlier: bigote

mustache-you-a-question-red-white-and-blue-mdYou are now entering a place… where one strange word… lives alone… separated from its sibling signifiers. This is The Outlier Zone.

My nephew and I were recently sick simultaneously which made for fairly gross Skype sessions. We were both really congested and had noses and upper lips which were rubbed red from all the blowing and wiping. I tried to make light of the situation by saying that we had matching mustaches and were Jamaican and he giggled, I think because he heard the inflection signifying “funny” and not because he got either joke.

In the dead space between when I am used to having my comedy stylings appreciated and the next terribly witty thing I say, I realized that I had a Word Outlier right under my nose.

bigote — Pelo que nace sobre el labio superior. [Hair which sprouts from the upper lip.] ORIGIN Possibly from Arabic bei Got (translated in Spanish as “por Dios” but I can’t find if this is in the sense of “for God” or “oh God”).

Holy hell

Normally I don’t like it when organized religion crops up in places I don’t want it (that would be everywhere), but this word is AMAZING, regardless of what God’s doing there.

Anecdote explained

On a family vacation to Jamaica when I was just a wee lass, I made a funny that became part of my family’s vocabulary. I was walking along the beach with my father and I noticed that we were both wearing blue swim trunks. (His were actual mens trunks, mine were the bottoms from a bikini.) “Somos jamaicas!” I exclaimed, conflating “Jamaican” the nationality with “gemelo” [twin]. I’ve suffered from acute language-fusion my whole life.

Learn something from my mistake

Jamaican people are actually called jamaiquin@ or jamaican@ in Spanish. Remember that the @ in Spanish is used to gender-neutralize words.


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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!)