just another American bumbling around Paris.

Month: February, 2012

le bonheur

parce que c’est forcément Le Valentin.

25 février 2012, dans le 9ème

souvenir d’été:  a wee vanilla cake topped with strawberries and raspberries and filled with a lovely raspberry coulis.


les seins, P. Guillaume

J’admire le dessin.

Melisa:  “Ils sont gros.”

Moi:  “Vraiment?  Moi je les trouve normaux.”

au musée.

(photos interdites, mais tout le monde les prend en cachette quoi…)

une visite à l’Orangérie

can you find me?

jardin des tuileries, 22 février 2012

le printemps

spring is spying on us, it seems.

rue mouffetard, 21 février 2012

Carnavale à Paris

Carnavale!  Place Gambetta dans le 20ème, 10 février 2012.

“Si l’Amérique Latine est comme ça, pourquoi on est à Paris?” – me to my Mexicans

femmes de carnivale 2


So for Valentine’s Day, my students and I read and discussed a love letter by Lewis Carroll (at least, I discussed it).  I then asked them to write some love letters of their own.

Here are the results from one group of terminale knuckleheads, or students in their final year of lycée, after about 20 minutes of ‘work.’  They don’t have a great level but understand a bit when they try and are able to communicate in English if they want to (though normally it is VERY DIFFICULT to get them to speak any English; they’re nice but very chatty and just want to throw paper and talk and shout at each other) (and yes, several of these were written to me.  Flattering, I know):


Dear Maïa,

I just want say that my life is your.  I just live for you.  You’re my darling that I never let you down.

I want live with you forever.  I ready at dead for you.  I reserv a week-end in Caraïbe island for our wedding.


Dear Maia,

My heart it’s ours, my love for me is very tall.

My baby, my darling, my love, I want married with you, your beauty is shine me.  My honey, for you, I can dead in the swimming pool with the alligator.  I love you, I love your scent, I love your accent.

I prefer you, of Miss [teacher]…

I want kiss you when I see you.

Big Kiss for you

I love you

Maia + Lucas

p.s. I want to married for you and have the kids, two boys and one girl.

[signed, with a heart drawn around it] Lucas


Dear Maya

When the first time I see your eyes like pearl, I fall in love, And __?__  sleep , but when I sleep you are in my dream, I’m like sick did I meet you.  I think you are the woman of my life and I want live with you forever and do a family.  I have allways buy the engagement ring, if you you want.

I love you, I need you, I feel you.  I will never forget your beauty.


Dear Penelope,

I write this some lines for you prooved (?) my love send you.

My love, my darling, my soul, my baby…I love you and I would love for ever.  I don’t live without you, you are as a dream

I love you [heart with arrow through it]

This was the hardest some of them had worked in weeks, so I was actually quite pleased with the results.  Their teacher has told me before that sometimes she just waits for class to end because she can’t get them to do anything, so I was happy to hold some written work from them in my hand.  And they asked lots of questions for a change (the world for “scent,” the word for “soul,” etc.).  They’re quite a funny class and even if they’re not the hardest workers, they’re nice kids, which makes me happy enough.

Here are a couple of letters from what is by far my most advanced class…  These kids speak very good English; they make complete sentences when they speak, they’ve got a big vocabulary, some of them have very light accents, and they’re really, really smart.  They’re interested in things and they’ve got opinions and they’re curious.  It’s my last class on Fridays, ending at 4 pm, and while it’s tempting to be in a rush to run off to Paris Friday afternoon to start the weekend early, I’m always so happy to wait for this class.  I was running 5 minutes late one day and when I showed up they all breathed a huge sigh of relief and said “We thought you were not coming!!”  As if the English assistant failing to show up one day would be such a tragedy.  I just love them.  I had all the students read their letters aloud at the end, and everyone was doubled over in laughter, unable to breathe, squinting through teary eyes.  I love French people having fun…


Dear Pauline,

first time I saw you, I thought it was a dream.  You know, when you’re young, you imagine the woman of your life and I didn’t think it could be true.

You’re the sunshine of my life, you light up my days and I want to be with you for the rest of my life.  The only thing I want to say is

I love you!

2… (this was written to a teacher at the lycée who apparently doesn’t like the student, and who is apparently overweight and, as the student put it, has spots on her face “that look like…not peempuhls…but…Maltesers!”  I don’t encourage this behavior, but seriously, how can you not laugh at that??)

Dear [teacher]


I don’t found the word to describe your…your…beauty.  Well there’s no one day that I think about French kissing, my dream is to spent the rest of my life with you, like Adam & Eve.  I will cook some cheesbarger like you love, with lots of bacon.  I hope that our [kids?] have your intelligence and your body.

3… (written to her friend in the class)

Dear Awad,

Your eyes, your face stink like shit.  You’re ass attracting me.  You’re beard make my hearts flowers.  You are the sunshine of my nights.  When I look at you, I see the most beautiful man ever…

Even if I don’t like your nose.  I like you.


I frickin love that class.

c’est trooop, le froid…

Oh la, it is seriously too cold these days.  I don’t know why I’m such a big baby about it; I’m from Illinois, for crying out loud.  I’m used to walking to class in several feet of snow.  I’m accustomed to not being able to move my arms due to all the layers the cold necessitates.  I’m used to much worse weather than a nip in the air and a bit of wind (especially in the metro.  I have never felt such wind in my life).  But God help me, I can’t take it anymore!  Paris weather, from what I’ve heard and what I experienced last year, tends to improve during the month of February.  We’re halfway through, vacation starts in a week, and I’m here for the duration, so let’s do this, bitches.

Image (Our adorable friend Tere guiding us to Sunday brunch, which ended with a wait on the sidewalk.)

After a last-minute relocation (on n’a pas envie d’attendre une heure et demi, merci) for brunch and a latté, Maria and I went to the famous 59 Rue de Rivoli, which I’ve walked by and stared at millions of times, but never actually seen from the inside.  It’s quite an impressive setup…  59 Rue de Rivoli is basically 6 floors of artists doing their thing how they want, where they want, in whatever form they want, and it’s free for the public to come check out.  There’s a good amount of rubbish lying around (some areas of the building resemble some crazy old person’s musty attic more than a cool Parisian artist’s workshop, but maybe those things aren’t so different?) and lots of colorful graffiti covering the walls.  There was a Seattle artist who had a setup I really liked, and I wanted to get a postcard of a lovely painting of Sardinia to send to Claire, but the dude was nowhere to be found.  Perhaps I’ll return to seek him out.

No pictures are allowed, which I understand and respect, but there was explicit permission to take a photo of this announcement that the building now charges artists to use its space, and new artists are being forced to shut down and move, patati patata, so voilà, dutifully passing the message along…


We went on this particular day because there were a variety of free spectacles de musique going on.  We arrived as two musicians were setting up their space, and as we moseyed toward the door a flustered woman hurried after us.  “J’ai des infos qu’il faut transmettre!!”  “Euh…okay.”  “Le concert de [ce mec] va se passer sur le 3ème étage, pas le cinquième!”  “Ahh…”  Maria had been texting so she wasn’t sure if the woman wanted her to send out a mass text or what.  The woman continued in a flurry:  “Il y a des chaises pliées mais il faut les installer toute de suite pour tout le monde!”  We peered at each other and at the woman.  She repeated her plea about unfolding the folding chairs.  “Vous comprenez?” she asked Maria.  Maria kind of squinted, so she turned to me.  “Vous comprenez?”  I looked at her.  She looked at me.  I looked at her.  “…vous voulez de l’aide?”  Bingo.  We headed back in to set up the noisy, creaking, ancient, HEAVY folding chairs (meanwhile, a woman with a violin looked thoroughly irritated that I dared to set my empty coffee cup and purse so near to her so as to free my hands to set up the chairs for her audience).  A woman with a clipboard rushed up to me as we were arranging chairs and asked if I knew the musician’s first name.  I had seen it on the sign, so I told her what I thought it was, and then quickly assured her that I didn’t work there.  “Ah non, moi je travaille ici!” she responded reassuringly.  Of course.  Of course you do.  Sigh…

encore la saison

So I think this will be the last gift I give for a few weeks, unless a surprise birthday springs up.  My coworker, neighbor, and very good friend, Melisa, had a birthday on Thursday.  Tomorrow is her birthday dinner in Paris and I am finishing up her gift, a pair of turquoise gloves, 50% wool.  Melisa’s got quite small hands so gloves are always too big on her and the fingers much too long, so I’ve made these to fit rather small hands.  She’s from Guadalajara so she’s not at all accustomed to the cold (and it is COLD in Paris these days…it was -9˚C Thursday morning)…these gloves should be quite warm.  I really hope they’re a good fit for her…

[And as a side note…I just learned there is a French verb of ganter:  to put gloves on.  I’m just going to start inventing verbs whenever I feel like it by adding verb endings to any old thing…like confiturer:  to put jam on my toast, etc etc.]

gants de quiétude

Blaise Pascal.

Thank you so much to the wordpress side bar for the following citation de Blaise Pascal, which so perfectly sums up the thought behind every message I ever write to anyone (translation by wordpress; could be changed, but I think it captures the sentiment):

Je n’ai fait cette lettre-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.

“I have made this letter longer, because I have not had the time to make it shorter.”



ce matin

11 hours of sleep followed by a bowl of oatmeal loaded with cinnamon and sprinkled with unsweetened cocoa and sugar, and washed down with a big cup of Gunpowder thé vert menthe and some Brazilian coffee.  Should keep me running through a day of class, commuting, babysitting, and whatever else the night brings.