Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures


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!



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.


Great Word: gloaming

Glomer has nothing to do with "gloaming." He was a character on another weird cartoon I watched growing up.

Glomer has nothing to do with “gloaming.” He was a character on another weird cartoon I watched growing up.

gloaming → noun, twilight; dusk.

ORIGIN Old English glōmung, from glōm ‘twilight,’ of Germanic origin; related to glow.

I came across this word again when I read Chris Pavone’s The Expats a while back and smiled appreciatively at it. If you weren’t familiar with it, you can now use it to replace its more common synonym. That other word has been marred by its association with the recent popular (horribly written) series of vampire novels. If you must refer to the books/movies, you can use the official Wittertainment referent: Twiglet.

Keepin’ it classy

As a general rule, I don’t care for poetry, but here’s one by Robert Frost, “Flower-Gathering”, which features gloaming.

I left you in the morning,
And in the morning glow,
You walked a way beside me
To make me sad to go.
Do you know me in the gloaming,
Gaunt and dusty gray with roaming?
Are you dumb because you know me not,
Or dumb because you know?

All for me? And not a question
For the faded flowers gay
That could take me from beside you
For the ages of a day?
They are yours, and be the measure
Of their worth for you to treasure,
The measure of the little while
That I’ve been long away.

→ → An actual photo of gloaming and a whole Scottish blog dedicated to it.

by Colin Campbell

by Colin Campbell


And that’s why you always leave a note

Say, for instance, you have information you would like to share with a person unknown to you; how do you do this? I can only think of one way, which is by leaving a note.

Not so in France. Here people just wait until they run into a person who might be the person to whom they want to convey information. The first time this happened, I was legitimately annoyed that Monsieur le président of the co-op I’m living in made such a big deal about how I had been breaking the rules. At the time, I pointed out that I hadn’t known about the regulations but as soon as I was informed, I amended my behavior. Problem solved.

Jump to early this month when I’d been waiting for a package from my mother and there was no sign of it. Correos, the national Spanish postal system (which is a complete joke), had provided her with a tracking number which revealed only that the box had been entregado (turned in/delivered) on the 8th. A week later, my mother filed a claim at her post office and I was set to head to mine and see if I could get any answers on this end. As I was checking the mailbox one last time, a woman rushed me from the opposite side of the street.

“Are you Madame XXXX?” she said, breathlessly.

“No,” I said, “I’m Mademoiselle YYYY, Monsieur XXXX’s subletter. Is there a problem?”

“Oh! I’m so glad to have found you! I check to see if your light is on every time I come home!”

I looked at her blankly because there wasn’t really anything for me to respond to and that’s when she added, “I have a package of yours! I’ve had it for over a week and kept hoping to run into you!”

She went on to tell me that she’d been in the lobby when the mailman attempted delivery and, as they both noticed that the box was insured and “international,” they determined it must be important. It apparently seemed best to them that my neighbor, a woman who’s never seen me, sign for it which she did. But then she didn’t leave me a note that she had it. For over a week. And there were perishable items inside. At this point in her story I got really pissed but I didn’t express it because she had my god damn package and I really wanted it.


This is really funny if you’ve seen Arrested Development.

When I picked it up at her apartment a while later, she told me that she’d been up to ring my doorbell “every night” but I was never home. I told her that I never hear the doorbell and was desperate to add, “If you came by EVERY NIGHT and there was never an answer, WHY DIDN’T YOU LEAVE A GOD DAMN NOTE?” but I decided that it would be more poli to just take the box and get the hell out of there.

Prenez note

French people don’t leave notes. Ever. Even for important things. Connards.

The title of this post courtesy of Arrested Development‘s “Pier Pressure” episode. AD is the funniest American show ever broadcast (UK’s is Fawlty Towers) and is finally coming back this summer (May 5!!!) after being off the air for six years. If you have never seen it, now’s your chance to get caught up. Amusingly, in French the show is called Les Nouveaux Pauvres which is a pun and therefore great.

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Interesting Iberian Information, Vol. III

I was watching Bravo’s “Around the World in 80 Plates” (a cooking competition show) and couldn’t believe that I learned something. Worse still, I learned something about Spain. On Bravo.

I’d argue the “centuries ago” part since I distinctly recall empanadas in Galicia being pie pieces as recently as when I lived in Spain (2005). This doesn’t really count as “centuries ago.”

Learn Something

Spain is a country twice the size of Oregon. Galicia is the part which is above Portugal. It is also one of the three provinces which has an active separatist movement. You may remember it from such news stories as the Prestige oil spill in 2002.

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Pizza TV? TV pizza?

At my current address, I get at least three pieces of junk mail a day. There’s usually a weekly circular from one of the local grocery or hardware stores and the rest is food delivery menus. I would normally throw all of it out without reading, but there’s interesting vocabulary to learn and sometimes, if you’re lucky, there’s some weird shit.

“The pizzas that have the flavor of your favorite TV shows!”

The recipes are

  • Monster Truck — tomato sauce, double mozzarella/cheddar, double chicken, potatoes, onion
  • Zombie Crush — tomato sauce, mozz, double sausage, fresh tomate, red pepper
  • Car Wash Girls — crème fraîche, sausage, mozz/cheddar, mushrooms, salsa
  • Catch Arena — tomato sauce, mozz/cheddar, sausage, chicken, merguez (Moroccan sausage), bbq sauce

I have no idea what any of the ingredients have to do with the given names, nor what shows they refer to. This is one of those things I’m not gonna investigate further. Of course, Game of Thrones pizza totally makes sense to me, so there must be some French people out there who would dig these.