Ghetto Living in Paris — Part Three

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A view of the Eiffel Tower from the Avenue du Président Wilson exactly here. August 2010.

I am mostly putting this photo here so you know what this post is not going to be about.

The past month I spent more time than I really want to think about researching and constructing 100 word descriptions about the top sites and points of interest in Paris, France. One hundred of these 100 word descriptions later, I am a little sick of Paris, to be truthful. 

Why Paris Sometimes Drives Me Batty — a recurring theme

Okay, I wrote that I did not want to think about it, but I started to, anyway. I researched and wrote descriptions in about 80 hours, I estimate, so that’s 10,000 words in those 80 hours — about 175 words per hour. You know what? Now that I am doing the math, I am SURE I must have really put in around 100 hours, minimum, on that thing I was working on. I must have done at least that. It was about an hour per description, with research and mapping, and figuring out how to put it all on a route, and then writing whether a person needed to turn left, turn right, go up, go down, or use a crosswalk. My lord. No wonder I was a basket case!!

I also just got done reading an article about the top things to do in Paris during fashion week, and all that I can think while I am reading is “Yammer, yammer, yammer, yada, yada, yada — Marais, Merci, La Grande Épicérie — blah, blah, blah!!”  It was about the same old places that the “popular kids” have deemed worthy of hanging around. I am a part of this increasing Twitter group of folks that are all writing about Paris This, and Paris That, and it is honestly becoming like white noise reading over and over about the popular bakeries, and the popular restaurants, and the popular people, who are doing all of the popular things in popular Paris. *rolls eyes*

If I had the Photoshop Skilz, right about now I would find a photo of a bunch of cheerleaders and a Prom King, and cut and paste photos of some of the faces of those most popular Paris bloggers and stick them onto the pictures of the cheerleaders and Prom King, and place them here on this blog and razz some more about the Paris Popular Crowd.  If you have read my blog long enough, you know who I mean. 😉

Yes. *sigh* It is another one of those blogs, one where I feel I have had my fill of Paris, and … okay, I was considering going for a whole “bulimic angle” as a metaphor here, and then felt like to do so explicitly was going a little too far. Let me take this angle instead: too much of life feels like a popularity contest, and when you are a geeky chick in her 40s living in a city you never really felt that attracted to in the first place, but which is THE most popular place on the planet for people to fall in love with and visit, it is not easy to be a Paris-based blogger.

There is a tension between wanting to post about interesting stuff and have people gather around and declare YOUR blog as a blog of wonder in the City of Light and wanting to find a unique angle, to stand out in a crowd where the topics revolve around the same limited subjects of the Same Old Monuments or places where the Paris Cool Kids are hanging around these days.

I have been figuring out that Paris-based blogs are a dime a dozen (if you don’t believe me, just go visit Keith’s A Taste of Garlic site, and realize that he has only reviewed the tip of the iceberg when it comes to blogs in Île de France, Paris specifically), and Paris blogs, with some degree of creativity and inspiration, say about the same things. For the most part. But it does seem to be the case that the Paris-based blogs that get the most attention have the prettiest pictures, or introduce the hottest spots, or highlight the same monuments over and over and over (ahem, Eiffel Tower, anyone?!?) all saying something along the lines of “I LOVE PARIS SOOOOOO MUCH!!!”

If you have your Bullshit Detector on right now, you will call me out and say to me, “Okay, so why do you read all of those blogs and articles and follow all of those Paris-based people if they get up your nose so much? Hmmm, Karin, why?”

Okay, you are right. I’m fussing about something over which I have complete control, and over which I really could choose to not participate. Agreed. Here is my rationale  (-ization?).

It goes back to the roots of this blog and why I started it in the first place, and which I have written about numerous times.

 

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Jardin des Plantes, September 4, 2010

 

I really do want to try to bloom where I am planted.

I have a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction for Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language, which I got in 1995. As a part of the intercultural studies coursework for that degree, and as a part of working with the immigrants and foreign students I taught in the late 1990s, I learned that the best way to come to acceptance of living in another culture is to learn as much as possible about that culture. It really does help to ease the integration process to try to figure out as much as one can about the new place where he or she is living. I know this. I have seen it in action with the people I worked with in the U.S. I also learned this was the case for myself when I lived and worked in the People’s Republic of China from 1990-1991.

It’s good for an expat to read up and try to take in as much as possible about the host culture.

And I will confess, too, that I am a huge sucker for learning about new places: the history, the culture, the things that are important to the people living there. When it comes right down to it, I do enjoy reading up on Paris and France. I also want to add that all of the Paris-based bloggers I have met in person so far have 100% been friendly, nice, kinda geeky (they are bloggers, after all), and fun. So this is in no way a personal slam to those bloggers who adore Paris and write about her with passion. They are cool people.

This is mostly just me, pre-menopausal and crabby, bitching about how there are more days than not where it feels like I am that clichéd square peg trying to fit in a round hole, and how I get annoyed because I know and have seen firsthand that Paris is NOT all that. In my opinion.

The people who write the articles and keep the Paris tourist machine running smoothly tend to idealize what this city is about. And because people have such an ideal and dreamlike experience when they visit Paris, it becomes romanticized beyond what it really is: an urban, world-class city with problems just like any other city.

Most of all, I think this rant I needed to get off my chest is a big case of sour grapes. The limit came for me this week, after this past horrendous month when I had to think much more about Paris than I really cared to, when I got a sweet invitation from an equally sweet Paris blogger to go to another sweets taste-off, this time comparing éclairs from the famed Stohrer and relative newcomer Jacques Genin (and oh my holy hell, is Jacques Genin ever a Paris Cool Kid blog topic of the past couple of years. Sheesh. Just Google him to see what I mean).

I think I have tried one éclair in Paris, back when I first came here over two years ago, from a bakery down the street. Being poor and non-famous, and really pretty ghetto here in the city, I did not have opportunity to try more. As you know, éclairs are full of gluten and dairy in the flaky pastry shell and creamy custard filling, and those are things that now make me very sick.

It’s one reason I get aggravated with being in Paris: it is the pastry capital of the world. It is the cuisine capital of the world. It seems that everything that is worth doing here in Paris somehow revolves around food and restaurants.

And I can’t eat any of it (or not most of it as pretty much every dish in town is going to have gluten and dairy in some form). I am cut off from a huge part of Parisian culture and intercultural experience because certain foods make me sick.

It’s just one more reason I get annoyed. Most of the stuff the cool kids post about, I can’t do anyway, and I feel like I am missing out.

Dontcha love how I go from Ms. Ranty Pants to Ms. Poor Me in a few paragraphs? LOL. (Sorry, Mr. Starkey. I know how you hate this, but even if it is not Strunk and White Correct for me to do it, this here is Blogland, and is acceptable in these here parts. To most. FU if you don’t like it, heh heh heh! ;-))

I think I will close this rant with yet another acknowledgement that lord knows I am trying my best to find the square-peg places in Paris. I will continue to seek them out, and continue to make the best of  the things in which I can participate here in the city. I will continue to try to count my blessings that I have an opportunity to be here in this historically rich place where some of my heroes in life have spent time.  To conclude (this part of the blog, anyway), these paragraphs make me realize this blog really does have a unique Paris angle, and the angle is that I will continue to be the Paris-based blogger who really does not like it here very much and will rant about it with cyclic predictability. Hahahaha! That is something that makes me stand out in the world of Paris cheerleaders.

After all that, I am going to be the Anti-Typical Paris Blogger, and I am going to proceed with another installment of “Ghetto Living in Paris.”

My Ghetto Garden

It’s been a while since I updated about my Ghetto Garden. Past posts on this topic are here. This past spring, I had planted a sprouted shallot, onion, and garlic clove.

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March, 2010

I am sorry to say that none of these fine fellows made it this past summer. I think the downfall started with the onion, which had actually blossomed.

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June 5, 2010

It got so big and tall that it kind of just collapsed. One morning, I tried to prop it up, and pop, the whole thing just came out of the soil, bulb and all! I don’t remember which plant went next, but none of them were was (oy, and I call myself a former English teacher! I went a whole three days not discovering that grammatical faux pas) doing entirely too well. The mint started going crazy in the other planter, too, choking out the lemon thyme and chives.  Mint, I have discovered, is very invasive. My best friend tried to warn me! She said it would take over and strangle everything around it. She was not kidding.

So what I decided to do was kill the ghetto garden of the shallot, onion, and withered-away garlic, and spread some of the herbs from the original planter now dominated by mint into the former ghetto garden box. That mint, though. It’s really hardy. Clingy. I am still finding and pulling up little mint runners out of the chives that I moved to next planter.

 

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Here are the ghetto garden herb window boxes on October 7, 2010.

 

Left to right we have rosemary, chives, tarragon, lemon thyme with mint behind it, verbena (the tall stuff), mint, a pot of basil and more mint. The geraniums are on the railing.

Here are some closer views:

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Rosemary / Romarin

 

This is the sad, fucked up rosemary. It has never done that well. I tried it in its own pot for a while. It did no better there than with the dominant mint. It’s got a fungus-y looking fuzz on the leaves, and looks nothing like the big pots of fragrant stuff I saw at the Marché Sécrétan as I passed it the other day. I think I need to take it out and toss it. I should start with a new pot. I really would like to have some rosemary chicken, but not with this moldy-oldy lookin’ stuff. Ick.

 

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Chives / Ciboulette

 

Ever since I moved the chives out of the original planter with all the herbs in it, they have sprung back into action! I need to start using them again, now that they are of healthy proportions. Hmmmm. Maybe next time I have a salad, I will snip some chives into it.

 

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Tarragon / Estragon

 

This is the tarragon, or estragon in French, which still reminds me of “estrogen” so I call it the “estrogen plant.” I think it is going through menopause, because it is just doing “meh.” I’m scared if I snip it and use it, what is left is going to die. I’m not really sure what to use tarragon in, anyway. I suppose chicken. Seems like a lot of foods not only taste like chicken, but chicken is the all-purpose meat with which to use herbs. I wonder how mint chicken would be, though. (???)

 

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Lemon verbena / Verveine

 

The verbena on the other hand? This freaky plant is a TREE, I swear. I really need to make some lemon verbena tea with it. Tomorrow.

 

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Lemon thyme / Thym citron

 

The lemon thyme, on the other hand, has the same moldy-oldy disease the rosemary has, I think. I finally cut it waaaaay back, so that only the healthiest stuff was still around, but I think the mint is going to kill it. It’s okay. I never could find a recipe using lemon thyme that sounded good, and the leaves and stalks are very tough. It’s a strange herb. Smells terrific! But it does not seem like something to cook with.

 

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Mint /Menthe

 

Here’s the damn crazy opportunistic mint. It is an aggressive muthuh effah (excuse my French, hahahaha. Okay, that’s not really French. In case you thought I was an idiot.  😉 Just trying to be funny, and since I can’t see all y’all’s expressions nor hear you, I’m just going to trust you smiled and laughed). I may have to  let it take over by removing what’s left of the lemon thyme and watch it go head to head with the verbena and see who outlasts whom. Or which outlasts which. I’m thinking of these two as pro-wrestlers now! Way to personify my herbs!

 

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Basil / Basilic

 

And the lovely, lovely sweet, tender basil which I got cheap at the Poor People Store, Leader Price, this past summer. I know, I am supposed to repot it in something better, but I don’t have a spare empty pot to put it in, I don’t dare plant it with that mint, and I don’t plan to spring for a new pot just yet.  I’m trying to use it a lot in cooking (yum, yum!) so that it won’t outgrow the pot too quickly. So far, so good.

 

As far as the other plants go, here they are, still growing:

 

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The Ficus, the Resurrection Plant, the Philodendron, and the Bamboo

(No idea what they are in French, except Ficus, which is Ficus, just pronounced “fee-koos.” I’m too lazy right now to go to Google Translate to figure it all out, and I also have to leave the house soon. If you want to add in comments what they are in French, I welcome it.)

Et voilà. Kind of boring stuff, maybe, but then so are large chunks of my so-called exotic Parisian life. My big concern that is beginning to nag my thoughts is what to do with this whole mess come winter when the freezing cold will kill it all. I know I need to take the garden inside, but where to put it? Another “charming” thing about Paris is the size of the apartments and problems like where to put things like your Ghetto Garden when it gets too cold. Plus, the design wünderkind who created this apartment put the electric heaters just under all of the windows (?!?), so placing the planters near the windows indoors is not possible. They’ll cook to death. (And who in their right mind puts heaters just under *windows*? Old, wood-framed, single-pane French-style windows at that! *rolls eyes*)

I’m sure, like everything else around here, I will figure it out.

So. Aloha, faithful readers. Au revoir and ciao. See you again real soon. I already have some photos for another ghetto post, so I hope I can get it up and running in a reasonable period of time.

Yours,

Karin

(an alien parisienne)

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Categories: Cross-Cultural Living, Ghetto Paris Living, Paris Blogging, Paris Monuments | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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61 thoughts on “Ghetto Living in Paris — Part Three

  1. Wow – what a rant!

    That’s one of the best rants I ever heard!

    Boy… are tongues going to wag!

    I’m going to make a nice cup of tea and then read it all over again!

    Thanks for the mention, by the way! You’re right about the tip of the iceberg – I’ve got another 748 blogs listed (ones I haven’t reviewed) and a large chunk are from Paris!

    All the best

    Keith

    P.S. Did you really plant just one shallot, one onion, and one garlic clove?

    What were you trying to grow?

    An Amuse Bouche?

    • Hi Keith!

      Yes, I really did plant a sprouted shallot, onion bulb, and garlic clove, lol. I was trying to grow a Ghetto Garden!! 😉

      Oh yes, ranty. I hope I came back to a reasonable place in the writing, though. I know I did in my head. The part I don’t like about rants is that people often get offended, and I really DO NOT want to offend anyone. To each his own. I empathize with people loving Paris, I really do. But I get annoyed about how people also try to put Paris in a box, how the focus is constantly on food, and how the same features and areas show up over and over again. And I have too rant every so often about that, ha!

      Oh. My. Gawd. Seven-freakin’-hundred forty eight more France blogs?!?!? REALLY??? Shit. That’s incredible, really and truly. I mean, I guess there really are a lot of expats in France, and a good proportion of those are in Paris, and people these days *do* like to blog, but holy cow…

      Well, that will keep you busy for a while, I’m sure! And people are opening up new ones all the time, lol. Good luck with that.

      Thanks for the comment, Keith.

  2. holy moley girley….too much coffee?…I agree with Keith…that’s some rant…I hope you feel better now…

    Look obviously living in any city is completely different than just visiting for a short time…Paris is a bitch…as much as I love it (and yes I’m one of those suckers that falls for her everytime) when I got back this time I was driving somewhere and thought to myself…I wouldn’t be able to just get in a car and go in Paris..you are stuck there…in small apartments for the most part..with no back yards or front yards..no real space outside of your own..that would drive me nuts…

    but I’m not going to “rant” on…you sound frustrated and I wish you could use that Master’s of yours to teach the frenchies some English…you need to be working I think…and I know it’s probably complicated but too much time on your hands might be at the roots of alot of this “malaise”

    anyway…let’s hope for a sunny weekend..the sun is shining here…

    as for your garden…maybe you are watering them too much…herbs don’t like to have wet feet…and they do need direct sunshine for alot of the day..if they are in the shade too much…mold happens…plus if they freeze in the cold..throw them out…they are just plants…lots more where they came from….

    ‘nobody says you have to love Paris….’….cheers..Deb.

    • Seriously Deb, I have been drinking more and more coffee the past month, hahahaha. Maybe it is time to lay off, eh? 😉

      I do feel a ton better. I just really needed to decompress from the past month of getting sucked into the Paris machine. Really, this city is just too full of itself sometimes, and taking it down a notch in my head is sometimes necessary. Childish and not really productive, but then that’s what a good rant is for, eh? 🙂

      There is a ton of difference between having a visit and going for it full-time here, for sure. Sometimes in my head I compare it to Disneyland. Sure, it is a magical place to visit, but would you *really* want to live there/work there and listen to “It’s a Small World” over and over again? I think not, lol. Kudos to the folks who actually work day in and day out at the Magic Kingdom.

      I wish I could use my degree, too. It’s so ironic that one of the reasons I got my degree in ESL/EFL all those years ago was just so I could teach overseas. Thanks to the recent EU and French policies, I’m stuck not doing it, though. I go through this malaise every autumn, too. It’s related to seasonal affective disorder and becoming more reflective. It’s also my 28th month of not working. So yeah, there is a need to have some mentally-stimulating and giving-back-to-the-community work, for sure, within reason, though.

      plus if they freeze in the cold..throw them out…they are just plants…lots more where they came from….

      Hehehehe! Good point. I guess that’s what happened to the geraniums from 2008. They froze, the future MIL returned to Paris, and we got new ones, ha!

      It’s true, though, I don’t think the rosemary ever got enough sunshine where it was planted. It’s one reason I tried it in another pot on its own in a sunnier spot. Thinking on it, I am surprised it has lasted as long as it has. I don’t think rosemary likes Paris. It totally thrives in the south of France, though. Hmmmmmm. I am beginning to wonder if maybe I am the same. 🙂 Perhaps Paris Paul and I need to move further south! I know he would like the seaside. First we have to get a little more wealthy, though, lol.

      Thank you for your support, Deb!

  3. Carole

    One of the things I like about your blog is that you write about the practical side of living in Paris. Take your ghetto garden (please! Sorry, couldn’t resist!) for instance. That can’t be easy to do with such limited space and is probably pretty common, but it’s news to me. Can you cover the plants with plastic (tacky, I know) when winter arrives? Will be curious to know how this issue is solved. Not at the expense of your plants, I hope.

    Life, not just life in Paris, is a popularity contest only if you allow it to be. I’ve always said (and hope I am not repeating myself here) I never felt any peer pressure because I never felt anyone was my peer! To thine own self be true! This quote is more appropriate than I thought. Look what I found on the internet: “To thine own self be true” is Polonius’s last piece of advice to his son Laertes, who is in a hurry to get on the next boat to Paris, where he’ll be safe from his father’s long-winded speeches.” Time to brush up on my Shakespeare!

    It’s still your life, Karin. You just happen to be living it in Paris. Paris is what you make it. You are not what Paris makes of you. Or is it the other way around? 😉

    • Hi Carole!

      LOL — it’s not like you have not been around for a few of these rants, huh! 😀 I’m glad that you like the practical Paris part of my life. I appreciate your support an awful lot in this, for sure. Thank you. I have some thoughts about what I might do with the plants. Covering them on a really cool evening might be one solution, for sure! I had not thought of that. I’m curious to know how it is all going to be solved, too, lol!

      “To thine own self be true” is Polonius’s last piece of advice to his son Laertes, who is in a hurry to get on the next boat to Paris, where he’ll be safe from his father’s long-winded speeches.”

      Hehehehehehe! How about that.

      Of course, I have always believed in theory about being true to oneself, and to not responding to peer pressure, for sure. I really have tried to find my own way and stay strong to it. It’s also true that there is a reason it is called “peer pressure.” It is really magnetic here in Paris. It’s not without some thought that I have called it “Paris Blog High School.” It reminds me of a John Hughes movie in action. I feel a lot like Andie in “Pretty in Pink” sometimes, lol. Sure, we all love her character in the movie. But she was really not liked by the other kids. And how many of us really think she should have gone with Duckie, right? I’m trying really, really hard to resist the Borg and go with Duckie (to put it in two pop culture metaphorical terms), but it is HARD. See Sion’s comment and her blog, too.

      Paris Popularity really is like a giant sucking vortex that envelops and tries to squeeze one into its mold. *snort* Thank you for the reminder of this:

      It’s still your life, Karin. You just happen to be living it in Paris. Paris is what you make it. You are not what Paris makes of you.

      Repeat comments like this keep me awake and out of that poppy field (just how many pop culture references can I put in this comment?!), and resisting the Borg, for sure. Thank you. 🙂

  4. Hey Karin,

    Guess what? Ficus is…Ficus, Philodendron is…Philodendron…AND Bamboo is…Bambou!!!!!
    That was an easy one for me! Yeaaahhh! 🙂

    Well, yes… I agree what a rant BUT you must feel much better now…well done. You’re on the path to recovery…

    By the way I LOVE your Eiffel Tower picture…AND a few of your plants are perennials so you could leave them outside during winter. The others…well, cook Italian!

    Looking forward to your next post!

    DeeBee

    • Hi DeeBee!!

      Guess what? Ficus is…Ficus, Philodendron is…Philodendron…AND Bamboo is…Bambou!!!!!
      That was an easy one for me! Yeaaahhh!

      Well now, that IS easy!!

      I do, I do feel a lot better. Sometimes it is necessary to just get a load off of one’s chest (is there a French expression for this, too?) and get on that road to recovery again. I’m getting there. 🙂

      That ET photo is one of my favorites, truth be told. It’s very close to the original I took, too. I know the colors were enhanced slightly in Picasa to make it “pop” a little.

      Oh, I know I could just leave the perennials out — the geraniums can do just fine. But the winter of 2008 was hard on the last batch, and they froze, and then we had some other flowers in there — I forget which ones we had, but they froze, too. It was sad to watch them die. 😦

      I bet that mint is going to do just fine, though, huh. It’s crazy hardy stuff!

      Thank you, DeeBee, and you are NOT one of the bloggers I was writing up there, BTW, lol!!!! I adore learning the history of Paris places from you. Actually, your blog helped me stay sane and resist the Borg! 🙂

      • Hi Karin,

        Late reply…
        Scoop: the w/e just went with me hardly going near the computer…

        To answer your question: I do, I do feel a lot better. Sometimes it is necessary to just get a load off of one’s chest (is there a French expression for this, too?)

        Yes, there is: Dire ce que l’on a sur le coeur
        Beautiful, hey?? We French of course always relate everything to the (emotional) heart…must be the origin of our romantic strand…
        If you ever check the dictionary you’ll find dozens of expressions that involve our hearts! It’s amazing.

        I know Karin that I was not one of the bloggers you were writing about…

        What I like about your blog is its very genuine approach. It’s Paris through your eyes with your unique writing style…so keep going Karin, I’m sure you’ll get where you wish… just set your priorities…

        Keep well,

        DeeBee

  5. Hey Karin. Nice rant. Though sorry you need to rant! I feel maybe I have been falling down lately on living up to the name of my blog. I should post more “imperfect” aspects of Paris soon to make you feel better. Sure I’ll think of something. 🙂 In the meantime, hang in there!

    • Hey Sion!

      I should post more “imperfect” aspects of Paris soon to make you feel better. Sure I’ll think of something.

      I’m sure it will not be too hard, lol! Still, though, I think what is great about your blog for you is that you were in much of the same headspace as me (as you have recounted it) before starting the blog, and writing about Paris has helped you fall in love with her, or at the very least appreciate her, a lot more. So I will keep hanging in there. Maybe the same will happen to me, eventually. I think I just need a good dose of doing some blogs about my neck of the ‘hood and I will be doing a lot better.

      Take care. Have fun with the éclairs. 😉

  6. karin! Wowza! Way to let it all out! I have to say, that although I am not a Paris blogger myself, I do share a lot of the same sentiments as you towards people who seem to think that the sun rises and sets in that damn city (and in all of those popular places of course). One of the things I’ve loved about your blog from day 1 is that you talk about places i’ve never heard of and it makes me want to see them. I feel like you do a good job of showing a hidden side of Paris that seems much more human and therefore relate-able, so props to you for that 🙂

    • Hellooooo, Amber!

      I do share a lot of the same sentiments as you towards people who seem to think that the sun rises and sets in that damn city (and in all of those popular places of course).

      I know. I know there are folks that get my need to rant. Thank you for being one of them. Thank you for the rants you have posted, too, lol!!

      One of the things I’ve loved about your blog from day 1 is that you talk about places i’ve never heard of and it makes me want to see them. I feel like you do a good job of showing a hidden side of Paris that seems much more human and therefore relate-able, so props to you for that

      Thanks for the encouragement to do just this! It’s good incentive to keep it up. I really do like focusing on the little things just around the corner from me, and it makes me happy. I think that’s why doing all those descriptions of “Typical Paris” got to me so very much. Sure, those places are Paris, but not the one I know and have come to like.

      I will keep going on the Other Side of it all. 🙂

      Take care!

  7. “about an hour per description, with research and mapping, and figuring out how to put it all on a route, and then writing whether a person needed to turn left, turn right, go up, go down, or use a crosswalk. My lord. No wonder I was a basket case!!”

    It is not the blog, but the subject. Look over your past blogs and you will see the ones that florished, the ones that you refer to in later blogs beamingly and got the most responces because the enthusiam (maybe enthusiasm isn’t the right word as the blogs I am refering to were not always happy, so strike that and replace it with passion) were and are about life, living and the emotional toll it takes on the soul. Those blogs were full of joy and hurt, frustration and bliss. To write about Paris, one must see it as an organic thing. You and Paris have no history and, though you have grown tolorant of each other, you still have an adversarial relationship. You cannot write and express excitement about these things unless you write it from that perspective and this may not be commercially successful.

    ” it is honestly becoming like white noise reading over and over about the popular bakeries, and the popular restaurants, and the popular people, who are doing all of the popular things in popular Paris.”

    and as such, it becomes repetitive and stale. My favorite travel blog recognised that and snark became the theme which propelled it to superstardom (I’ll have to find it again as it was lost in the transition between computers. I’ll share when I find it)

    “wanting to post about interesting stuff and have people gather around and declare YOUR blog as a blog of wonder in the City of Light and wanting to find a unique angle”

    You have a unique angle in that you are a unique person. The center of your “Paris Blog” is not Paris, but Karin and so it is like no other. This is what people are flocking to hear because, as you have pointed out, Paris already has an overly large and taleted cheerleading squad.

    I have to admit that I only read two authors of Paris blogs (shouldn’t be too hard to figure out who they are). One blog is filled with the drama and accutely personal observations of life and the other is both romantic and profane, poetic, but grouded by showing the city’s feet of clay. My ideal would be a blending of the two.

    “I learned that the best way to come to acceptance of living in another culture is to learn as much as possible about that culture” “And I will confess, too, that I am a huge sucker for learning about new places: the history, the culture, the things that are important to the people living there”

    Anyone who has traveled with me has seen this, but I will follow any tour of anyplace I visit and be the one who does ask the questions of the guide and then aproaches them after with more that were not part of the tour, then I will find someone who lives nearby, you know, the “old-timers” who know the secrets and “the real story” and chat with them. When traveling to other towns, I’ll stop folks on the street, in parks or business owners and talk to them about life there in comparison to where I live. I do this when I visit your blog, this is how I really am.

    “It’s one reason I get aggravated with being in Paris: it is the pastry capital of the world. It is the cuisine capital of the world. It seems that everything that is worth doing here in Paris somehow revolves around food and restaurants.”

    Toldya so (that and art or art history or history, well you know)

    ” I will continue to be the Paris-based blogger who really does not like it here very much”

    The notion comes to me of Tom Hanks movie Castaway and imagining him stranded, but having a sort of one-way internet access where he would send out a blog without any feedback. Lucky for you, you get to expirience that feedback, but being stranded in a paradise that is not of your choosing is an interesting theme that would attract readership.

    ” That mint, though. It’s really hardy. Clingy. I am still finding and pulling up little mint runners out of the chives that I moved to next planter.”

    I had to giggle a bit because I know some people like that.

    I would have thought rosemary to be heartier as it is something I have a dickens of a time beating back in my friend’s garden. I do love chive, but the stuff I remember grew up on a stalk and had a fuzzy lavender flower. I must say that lemon verbina looks nothing like beach verbina. I wonder how they come to share the verbina name and what makes a verbina, verbina? We have coastside sage growing wild about here and it is strictly an aromatic, not a cooking sage. This could be how you may use the lemon thyme should you choose to keep it.

    When my dad’s mom passed, she left behind a whole cupboard full of spices. I do not cook, so I only have use for a very few of them (garlic power, salt/pepper, cinnamon), but my brother has made full use of them and is increacing his proficiency all the time (funny how the autistic have these natural skills). Unfortunately, he is rather selfish/lazy in his cooking and while I always get to smell the wonderfulness, he only shares occationally.

    • Hello, Ken!

      You always know how to keep the conversation/dialogue going. 🙂

      the ones that you refer to in later blogs beamingly and got the most responces … were and are about life, living and the emotional toll it takes on the soul.

      True. And the things that really took my fancy, too, like Versailles. Now that is a “typical place” in the Paris area, but I had to give that one credit as it was so immense and incredible in scope (historically, culturally, etc.). I’ll try to bear this in mind as I think of things to post.

      I have to admit that I only read two authors of Paris blogs (shouldn’t be too hard to figure out who they are). One blog is filled with the drama and accutely personal observations of life and the other is both romantic and profane, poetic, but grouded by showing the city’s feet of clay. My ideal would be a blending of the two.

      *chuckle* Well, good thing that you can read the both of them, eh? Maybe together, they are the perfect blend, huh. 😉

      being stranded in a paradise that is not of your choosing is an interesting theme that would attract readership.

      Well, that is a huge part of things, for sure. I am so glad my friend Aimee thought of the “alien Parisian” angle. I changed it to “Parisienne” to get the French language part into things. Still it stands that I feel like one of the Coneheads trying to figure out my place and how it is that I am swimming in this particular pond.

      Thanks for your feedback about the herbs, and yeah, I was kind of thinking that about the mint, too, lol. Here are some good vibes that maybe your brother will begin to share a little more! Or that maybe you will get the gumption to cook with the herbs and spices. I know I used to hate to cook, and now I am okay with it. Things can change like this if the incentives are big enough. 😉

      Take care, Ken.

      • Carole

        Weren’t the Coneheads supposed to be from France? Just stirring the pot some!

        P.S. It is possible to love/like the place and not exactly care for the people. That is how I feel about where I live.

      • LMAO — you are right. I think that the Coneheads *were* supposed to be from France, hahahaha!

        Yeah, I know what you mean. The more I think about this post, the more I just think I am pre-menopausal, though, hee hee hee! Thanks for your “other note” and I will respond to that soon, too.

        Take care!

  8. Hey Karin! My fave part of your blog is that you don’t view Paris or France through the rosy tint specs that so many others seem to wear when writing about it.

    Your posts never exclude me because I’m not Parisian, do you know how annoying it is to read how wonderful it is to go here, there and everywhere and do this in and that ALWAYS in Paris for a non-Parisian?

    Your blog is a breath of fresh air and I think that is why you have so many faithfull, non-Paris based readers… it’s real life and real life is what counts.

    Keep up the good work and don’t worry about ranting! In fact, I read a rant about Life in France blogs generally the other day too!

    As for your ghetto garden I was wondering the same thing as Keith, did you really plant just one onion etc? That sounds something like I would do 😉

    As for your mint well lucky you! I have been through 3 mint plants this summer! I’ll swap you some rosemary if you want?

    That verveine plant just looks scary btw, not keen!

    Take care Karin!

    • Hi Piglet!

      Well, yeah, no rosy tint glasses were on in this post, that is for sure, lol. I’m glad, though, that you feel included and that this writing brings a breath of fresh air. It is true that there can seem to be a bit of a “exclusive club” atmosphere not only in Paris blogs, but in Paris itself. There really is a whole of France “out there,” which is one reason I am glad for Keith’s blog, too — it helps me to remember that not everything revolves around Paris. Where was the rant you read about Life in France blogs?? I should check that out…

      I do try to keep it real, that is for sure. Sorry I scared you with the Verveine, though, hahaha! I really did just plant one onion. I had one in the bag I purchased sprout, I had the empty planter, and so I decided to plant it to see what would happen. It started with the garlic. As a bit of a joke I put it in the planter, and when it started to grow I got the idea for the other things, too.

      Now that there is already less and less sunlight, I noticed even in the past 24-48 hours that the herbs don’t seem as happy. I don’t think they are going to fare too well this winter. I bet that freakin’ mint survives, though, hahaha! You can have some if you come back to Paris to visit. 🙂

      You take care, too, m’dear. See you online!

  9. Ooh, you’re speaking my language today, woman. Maybe it’s because we just returned from a vacation in a much, much less pretentious place, but it’s painful to be back in Paris. Paris is no dreamland for those who deal with her day in and day out.

    I go through stages — a few months of loving it, a few months of hating it. Paris is a beautiful city full of romantic possibilities but the day-to-day is a grind. The champagne picnics on the Pont des Arts peter out real fast in the beginning, probably because you’re spending upwards of two hours a day on the phone with various customer service people begging them to do anything for you in this lifetime. They will not do it, and will charge you for the call to boot.

    You’ve got the food issues, too. I’m so sorry for that, Karin. There are many days the only thing that’s kept me from jumping on a plane outta here is a warm baguette. We need to find you a gluten-free patisserie.

    I just pushed my way through crowds of people — none of whom stepped aside to let me pass, of course — to go buy some cupcakes for Coco’s birthday. 20 euros for 6 cupcakes. Maybe that’s why I’m so crabby today.

    Love the Disneyland reference in your above response. Perfection.

    Hang in there, woman. There are many who understand — and also can’t stomach the “too cool for you” namedropping crowd. Bye!

    • oooh, and one other thing. I bet you’ll win an award from Keith for this one. I’m thinking “Best rant of the week”? or something along those lines. Congratulations in advance.

    • Hi MJ!

      Portugal seems so beautifully non-pretentious! Paris really is rather full of herself, I think, most times. But you are right: sometimes I am surprised at the things that catch me off guard, and I’m stunned at something touching or beautiful, too. She is full of contradictions, this city. The romantic façade and the gritty reality underneath you mention is just one of them, huh.

      Thanks for the sympathy for the food stuff, which I blatantly appealed to in the post. 🙂 I have to say it really does suck sometimes! I little warm baguette can sure settle a lot of insanity! I have other things now that help. I’m grateful for the almond flour I can buy very easily even in Leader Price. Okay, so they were out of it this past weekend, lol, but they had plenty of hazelnut flour, something that I am sure would cost an arm and a leg in the States, and which is in the Poor People Store here.

      Twenty Euros for six measly cupcakes?!? That is, like, $4.65 per cupcake!!!!! *faints*

      Yikes. There’s some perspective for you. See that folks?! You think Paris is a dream?! IT’S $4.65 for ONE CUPCAKE here!!!

      Granted. For less than 2 bucks you can have a chocolate croissant. BUT IT’S $4.65 A CUPCAKE.

      I hope they were really purdy ones, lol.

      I’m glad you like the Disneyland reference… I keep thinking about that! It really does fit, doesn’t it. I’ll hang in there as long as there are folks like you out there empathizing all the way. 🙂

      See you ’round the bloghood.

  10. II just loved, loved your post. It is true people talk about “Paris” a lot, but it is mostly about the “sights” of Paris and the occasional strangers – let them try to work through the French administration! There are so many other aspects of Paris that are ignored – the sordid ones, the rundown ones – don’t see too many posts about Barbès Rochechouart and the streets above. I love Paris a lot more now because I am so far away but when I go back after a couple of weeks I get tired of it too. I am going back to visit New York City soon and it is the same about NY, it is hard to find something about the city unless it is the usual sights, the Broadway shows, etc. I like to venture in places where there are not many tourists. I am surprised at the huge number of blogs in English about Paris, and that in France. You have to add all the other blogs from people out of the country.
    In a way my feelings could be the reverse of yours and I could call my next blog An Alien Américaine. When I see all the young French people wishing to come to America, I think – come and see for yourself, it is not that easy and the streets are not paved with gold as you think. Actually I have met many French people who came here – then went back. The culture is so different. There are a couple of good sites on these differences, about the US and about France. One is “Understanding France” it is in French but you can use Google Translate – http://www.understandfrance.org/ . I think you could also be going through “French Shock” which is common – I went through “American Shock” problem is, I am still under the shock – lol!

    When I told people I had left Paris to come to the US, they would be so surprised. Of course I came to travel and did not mean to stay, but at the time I felt suffocated by Paris (and my father.) Now, in the reverse, I got tired of people saying “Aren’t you pleased you came to the US” like it was freedom land (it is not.) I did not come as a wretched immigrant, had more money in France than in the US and felt insulted that they thought I came to grab a piece of the US economy. Anyway I just like to say your blog is a bit of fresh air, French fresh air if you will (don’t know how fresh that is in Paris…lol)

    As for your rosemary – it is the sun. Mine grows well but it is are under the 80 to 90 degrees sun all the time. Even so, last year it died during the winter – and our winter was mild.

    • Hello a Vagabonde!

      I am so glad that you could concur with this post as a former true Parisienne! (I am sure you are still one in your heart, though, eh? 😉 )

      There are so many other aspects of Paris that are ignored – the sordid ones, the rundown ones – don’t see too many posts about Barbès Rochechouart and the streets above.

      This is very true. And it’s a complicated thing to do sometimes, too, as Paul and I found out when he and I went to take photos of Tati one weekend (see here).

      In a way my feelings could be the reverse of yours and I could call my next blog An Alien Américaine. When I see all the young French people wishing to come to America, I think – come and see for yourself, it is not that easy and the streets are not paved with gold as you think.

      I hope you write this. It’s true… I know that the rose-colored lenses can be in place going the opposite direction, too. Thank you for the link. I will check it out! It’s true that people can go through cyclic phases of culture stress and culture shock over and over. It’s interesting to read about how your journey and perception by others has shifted through the years of your expat experience in the States, too. What I also note is that no matter what culture we are from, we are all in the same boat if we have chosen to leave our homeland and live in another country! I’m glad we are on the same boat. 🙂

      Re: Rosemary. You are right. It needs somewhere completely dry and sunny, very sunny. Maybe I will try again next year, but I think that it is not an herb/bush that is suitable for Paris. Poor rosemary.

      Thank you, as always, for your perceptive and encouraging comments, VB!!

  11. I just went back to Understand France the site I mentioned above – it is in English, not French. I had not looked at it in a while.

  12. Hello dearest!

    Too long time no see… Thank you ever so much for your encouraging comments on my blog! I sense your uplifting peer support. It does so much good. I am happy to read your ponderings. You always have so much insight.

    Let’s try to get together soon, okay!?

    Hugs heading your district… Paris is quite lovely these days, huh!

    • Hello, Susa! So nice to see your smiling face here! You are welcome for the comments, and I hope that I can be by more often now that I am a little more freed up. 🙂 I’m glad you survived my rant here, lol. 🙂 I would love to get together again soon. Let’s see what we can get worked out. Thank you for the hugs, and I hope that all is well in your neck of the ‘hood, too.

      Take care!

  13. “One hundred of these 100 word descriptions later, I am a little sick of Paris, to be truthful.” I laughed out loud, reading your first paragraph.

    Then, realizing what you’ve been up to… hellz yeah! Writing all those descriptions sounds like French torture!

    Then I kept reading and I was grinning and pumping the air: Go, Karin! for all the things you had the balls to say about bloggers and blogging and calling BS on the rose-tinted perspectives and postings.

    And then, sniff, I saw that I made the blog (thanks for considering me ‘sweet’ though I’m also in that ‘geeky’ crew!).

    And then I just felt doubly bad about your food allergies. Truly, I can’t imagine how difficult it is for you. I am, in the true meaning of the word, sorry! (And PS > You were missed yesterday!)

    The thing is, every one of us expats here in Paris, goes through the same love-annoyance-self-pity-argh, shoot me-euphoria-what the hell I am doing here anyway?? cycle, so certainly don’t feel self-conscious about that. It’s great that you’re expressing it, because we’re all reading it, furiously nodding our heads in empathy.

    In the end, it’s life. And our expat life in Paris is a very specific and curious, sometimes bitter, but mostly blissful experience. I think. Right?!

    xo, Amy

    PS. Tres jalouse about your herbs!

    • Well, hello there, Sweet Freak!

      Yes, you are the sweet blogger. 🙂 I hesitated linking you in in the actual post although I will do it HERE. Go check it out, people!! Here’s the éclair blog, too. The reason is because of the other blog which you write called “God I Love Paris” (*giggle*) and I did not want people to think I was dissing on your blog!! 😀 Nope. You are one of the ones I was referring to who is 100% nice in person and whom I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting. 🙂

      So, *whew*. I am glad that ranting was appropriately-done this time around. I know I thought I was going to pop if I did not release some of that pent-up energy of the torture (as you aptly put) of writing all those descriptions. A little ranting and some distance later, I am really glad that I got to know the city as well as I did. Better to go with the devil you know that the devil you don’t. Or something like that… Know your enemies?! Haha! I have decided that Paris is my frenemy, lol. 😉 I’m glad that you could empathize, and yes: you are right even tho’ I am loathe sometimes to admit it —

      And our expat life in Paris is a very specific and curious, sometimes bitter, but mostly blissful experience.

      It is. And I have no regrets. 🙂

      Re: herbs. You know, right now I am thinking, “Don’t be too jealous!” It got really chilly last night, and they are not looking so hot today!! I think it is time to bring them inside, already. I’m still not sure what in the heck I am going to do with them/where to put them. I have to think fast, though. At the moment, it is all clearly something that is more hassle than it is worth!!!

      You take care, and thanks for the comments. I’ve already read through the éclairs smackdown and am looking forward to commenting there, too.

  14. Weekend In Paris

    Nice rant!
    Rose color glasses are issued to tourists the minute they book their flights! I for one, gladly put them on every time I book a trip to a new place. Afterall, it’s a temporary condition that can be easily corrected upon return by taking the glasses off and showering in our large unlimited hot water showers!
    I lived in London for 3 1/2 years, worked on the economy and dealt with the daily hassles. Paperwork, huge fee to watch tele with only 4 channels, trailer size refrigerators, no parking, quequeing for buses and trains, strikes, etc…the charm can wear off if you let it. Then, I would spend a weekend out in the Cotswold’s or go to an amazing new museum and fall in love with the city all over again!
    I think when you live in a foreign country you have the right to rant a bit and to vent for sure about the difficulties – when the negatives outweigh the postives – the beauty is that we can always leave.
    Go for it girl – keep writing!
    Cheers,
    Priscilla

    • Hellooooo, Weekend in Paris aka Priscilla. 🙂

      Sometimes I wonder how it would have been if I had been a tourist here first. I spent about 48 hours total as a tourist back in March of 2008, but I was really in Paris more to see Paul than to see Paris. So the city was very secondary to seeing *him.* I never had that moment of “falling in love” with Paris. I wonder if I had had a moment like that if it would change things for me…

      *thinking for a moment*

      Pro’lly not, lol.

      You bring up a good point about the cyclical nature of feeling the stress of being a duck out of water/in another culture/in an environment that is not our native place:

      Paperwork, huge fee to watch tele with only 4 channels, trailer size refrigerators, no parking, quequeing for buses and trains, strikes, etc…the charm can wear off if you let it. Then, I would spend a weekend out in the Cotswold’s or go to an amazing new museum and fall in love with the city all over again!

      Like other commenters have written, too, there are ups and downs with a place, aren’t there. And yes, it seems to be that there is inevitably something to get our affections going again! I wonder what it will be for me this time…

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, Priscilla, and hope to see you again soon!

  15. I’m glad that Paris part of my life. I love this place…Thank you.

    • Well, hi Ralph! I checked out your site and it seems that maybe you are here more to pimp your site than to comment for real, ’cause I am wondering why after all the shit I say about Paris here you are saying that you love the place. *giggle* But what the hell. Lord knows half the reason I leave comments on David Lebovitz’s blogs is so that people might notice and come to mine. 😀

  16. Pingback: A Taste of Garlic

  17. I really enjoyed reading this post and can totally understand the rant! Hope it helped to get it off your chest.
    Your garden looks a hell of a lot better that any garden I’ve ever had! 🙂

    • “than” any garden…
      oops

      • Gotcha.

        One of the things I hate about WordPress comments is no “preview” feature and no “edit” one, either. Blogger has one-up on WordPress with its preview, and Disqus comments with an “edit” feature, but I would have to be a rich blogger to add that on!! 🙂 In the meantime, I do exactly what you did here. 😉

    • Hi Chez Loulou! How nice of you to come by! 🙂 I’m glad that you enjoyed the post and could relate to the rant. It really did help to write things out. I’ve felt a lot lighter load and am thinking my next post ought to be about “gratitude,” lol. I have never had a garden before — this is my first (and it is so ironic that my first one is in an urban setting, in a window no less!). It mostly seems to be taking care of itself, although I have had to play musical plant boxes with it. Thanks for the props on it!

      Take care!

  18. Thank you for making me laugh with your “sad, fucked up rosemary.” Following the metaphor of “blooming” where you are planted, I know how you and your rosemary feel. For the longest time I really wanted to “fit in” here–dress the part, act the part–but I finally realized that I’ve always been a misfit. Why should my Paris experience be any different? I’ll bloom where I’m planted, but I’ll always look like your giant onion flower in a sea of “perfect” peonies.

    Do you ever feel that way?

    Yesterday, I followed a fellow up Avenue de Clichy. His hair was bleached white and shaped into a mohawk; his pants were purple and tight, and he carried a guitar case in his hand. He stopped for a moment to take off his black hooded sweatshirt, revealing arms riddled with tattoos.

    “You’re not French, are you?” I wanted to run up and ask him. “Me neither!”

    It takes guts to be true to yourself and to forget about what the others are doing with their baguettes and eclairs, and you’re a gutsy woman, so I know you’ll make it work! (And if you find a wonderful, affordable place in the south, will you tell us about it? We’re ready for a sunny change of scenery, too!)

    • Hi Aurelia!

      You are welcome for making you laugh! 🙂

      I’ll bloom where I’m planted, but I’ll always look like your giant onion flower in a sea of “perfect” peonies.

      Do you ever feel that way?

      Absolutely. I mean, this blog is an ALIEN parisienne, no? 😀 I keep thinking about how I feel like I am like the Conehead family from SNL! Except I am pretty much not even really trying to fit in so much. I’m cool with being the onion flower most of the time, I just get a little tired of looking at peonies and wish that I were in an onion flower-friendly environment sometimes. Paris seems especially difficult that way where it seems like a lot of people *care* about being the peonies. Sometimes I think maybe other parts of France might be more onion flower-friendly, eh?

      I love your description about the guy and how you felt up there, and I know what you are saying. Here’s to being true to ourselves!! 🙂

      Ohhhhh, I do so love Antibes, where my friend lives. I have the ultimately affordable place to stay which is her house, lol — but in all seriousness, I know that there are reasonable places to stay there. If I can, I will find out from her what those places are. I’ll warn you now, though, Antibes and Nice (which is 15-20 mn by car away) are not super nice in the fall/winter. Maybe a little nicer than Paris, but not by much. That Mediterranean climate has the dry, sunny season, and the wet, cloudy season, and they are in the wet, cloudy season already. It gets pretty chilly, even in the south of France in winter.

      I vote you guys go to Morocco. I was just talking with a old online/new face-to-face friend about her upcoming trip to Morocco, and now I want to go there, too.

      Thank you for your kind and understanding words, Aurelia!

  19. Susan

    Hi Karin! I I have only just dipped into the Paris blogs out there so I haven’t met the cheerleaders yet, but is it possible that they write about the city in a more impersonal way than you do? I enjoy how personal your writing is and I’m thinking about starting a blog when I move to Paris next year (if only to make new friends in a foreign city, lol).

    However, I’m not sure I would be as comfortable about being so honest about my personal life as you and some other bloggers are – – I’m thinking I would probably end up in the cheerleader camp just because I don’t want everybody knowing all my business. So if I do a blog and end up a cheerleader, remember that I’m just the little punk girl in the back of the room who really did study a lot even though I pretend to be all cool and never raise my hand to give an answer – cause that was just how I rolled in high school 😉

  20. Hi Susan!

    Thanks for coming by. 🙂

    I I have only just dipped into the Paris blogs out there so I haven’t met the cheerleaders yet, but is it possible that they write about the city in a more impersonal way than you do?

    This is a good point — this could be an aspect of it. I know that the focus of the “I love Paris”-type blogs tend to focus on the city itself, not on the person visiting it, and his or her impressions or feelings about it necessarily. What I sometimes feel with the rose-colored glasses blogs is that there is a kind of “laundry list” approach to Paris, with a one-upsmanship kind of attitude, like, “Well, I went *here* and then *here* and then I had coffee in the Café de Flore at Sartre’s table, and lah-lah-lah, aren’t I *great*?!”

    Okay, I guess when I am feeling really grouchy about it all,honestly, I guess I feel it is a shallow approach. I know it is a stereotype that cheerleaders are shallow and only care about their popularity in high school — I knew some really nice, genuine cheerleaders in high school who were anything *but* that. But if we go with the stereotype, that is how I feel those blogs come across sometimes. It’s very competitive, and as if the person wants to claim Paris for his or herself, and enter into a kind of “Let’s see if I can accomplish every task that the guidebooks say people *must* do when in Paris.”

    Yeah, Susan, if you really were the little punk girl sitting in the back, I’m thinkin’ you’re not gonna be the cheerleader type, hahahaha! 😉 If you were anything like me, you probably did not like those stereotypical cheerleaders any more than I did in high school, lol.

    It’s exciting that you are moving here. Have you started a blog, yet? It might be cool to dip your feet into a blog *now* and find your voice on it where you are at in this moment. I had been blogging other places for four years before starting this Paris-based one, so a lot of the voice I have here and the honesty I write with is much in character with my previous blogs. I like to read blogs about how it is that people come to Paris, and their first impressions right off the bat. If you do, come back and give me the URL!!

    Be well, and thanks so much for your input! 🙂

    • Susan

      Okay, I think I see your point. I’m glad I haven’t looked at these cheerleader blogs because they sound really boring – exactly like the cheerleaders at my high school! No wonder they annoy you so much!! I’ve been to Paris half a dozen times now, so I don’t need to read any touristy, “isn’t Paris great!” stuff so I glad I’m not missing anything.

      I have actually started a private blog so I don’t have to answer the same questions in a dozen different emails from friends when we leave. I can’t go public with it now because my husband will be quitting his job in a few months so we can move. He’s leaving his lucrative field and I’m giving up my mid-life retirement to teach English – and yes, we do know that’s crazy but we’re grateful that my husband has been successful enough that we can afford to do it.

      The Great Recession really forced us to reconsider how we wanted to live our lives when it seemed my husband’s company might go under and we would have to spend our “retire in Paris” savings on paying our (under-water!!) mortgage in an expensive American city while waiting for the economy to improve. In the end his company survived, but his dissatisfaction with his career was still lingering so we decided plan B was to have a good old-fashioned mid-life crisis and move and start over and live in “reduced circumstances” in a city we love. I should tell you that he is an EU citizen (but not French) so we don’t have to worry about getting the carte sejour.

      I’ll keep reading your blog – I enjoy your style very much, and if I go public I’ll let you know!
      Take care!

      • Thanks for coming back and sharing more, Susan, and cooooool! How exciting that you get to settle in Paris as Plan B at this point! You story is inspiring. 🙂 Yes, please do let me know if you decide to “go public” with an open blog. In the meantime, I hope to see you back here. I have some more posts in mind to show a little more gratitude now that I worked a little rant out of my system. 🙂

  21. Oh, Karin! I feel so fortunate to have met you last night. You’re my angel, hero, fellow 40s blogger in Paris – who doesn’t feel very cool (despite being a former cheerleader! haha!) Had so much fun hanging out with you last night and you’re so right about the Calvados. Or at least if we’re going to end with a digestive, maybe we shouldn’t start with several glasses of wine. Looking forward to seeing you again. Amy

    • Hellloooo there Amy! It was fantastic to meet you, too. What cracks me up is that your cheerleader story you told me fits PERFECTLY with this kind of a post! If I had had the same reasons for doing that as you, I would have, too. 🙂 It seriously just goes to show that we cannot judge books by their covers, eh?

      I would love to hook up again (uhhh, I mean in that old, 40-something sense which used to just mean “meet with you” haha!). Minus Mr. Calvados next time, methinks. Bastard, lol. 😉 Take care and thank you for reading. 🙂

  22. What a rant!;-)
    Just stubled upon your charming blog.
    I enjoyed reading this as another girl living in Paris.

    • Hi Englishvers! I’m glad you stumbled here! 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed hanging out for a while. 🙂 See you ’round the bloghood!

  23. I am sorry, but I laughed quite a bit reading this (I didn’t read ALL of it, it’s rather long), but think of it as laughing WITH you not at your blog. I found it wonderfully refreshing!!!! Oh and I don’t eat éclairs here either. I am casein/gluten intolerant. We should have dinner sometime! 😉 But I do love Paris 😉 😉

    • Sweet Melissa (I told you I would not forget, lol!),

      I am so glad you laughed — it was meant to provoke some laughter — and yeah, “rather long” is pretty much how I roll around here. 😉 So no worries about cutting reading short. After writing several rueful blogs about the fact that my posts are more “Proust” than “Hemingway” (and, honestly, sometimes a lot like Joyce’s Ulysses, hahahaha) I have decided instead of changing anything to just be that niche blogger for people who don’t mind that sometimes/often Paris gets up my nose, I write about crap (sometimes literally) at length, and it can go on for a while. 😉

      I noted the other night when we spoke that we were both gluten and casein intolerant and I thought, “YEEESSSSSSSS!!! I am not alone!” I just *knew* there had to be someone else out there who was in the same boat as me, and who might know about how to cope while eating out or in other social situations. Absolutely I would love to have dinner sometime. I’m sure we’ll run into one another again at a blogger event. I hope so!

      See you ’round the bloghood!

  24. Patricia

    LOL I call my town in Los Angeles, my “suburban ghetto” but I would surely trade it for a Parisian ghetto anytime

    • Hi Patricia! Thanks for chiming in. 🙂 It’s true, a lot of people think and believe that they would want to trade their existence for the Parisian ghetto, but I guess part of my blog is to say, “You know what? The grass is always greener on the other side, kids” and like most fantasies, living in Paris has its fantasy elements, too. The reality is NOT all that. Of course there are wonderful things here, but honestly, there are wonderful things *everywhere.* The point is: embrace with gratitude wherever you are. I actually DO have to consciously do that with Paris, although many people think it ought to be easy — a piece of cake to do so. It’s not. I am here to bring balance to the Force, and some Yin to the Yang, but also work to come to the “grateful place.”

      I hope I succeed, and if you can laugh along the way with me, then great!! 🙂

  25. I love France–don’t get me wrong–but I am also in love with Scotland. Even after living in France for two years, I never felt like I belonged, whereas on my first visit to Scotland, I felt at home (just a colder, accented home where everyone was taller than me). I know I have romanticized Scotland (darn you, Diana Gabaldon and handsome kilt-wearing brother of my good friend!) and that if somehow I ended up living there I might turn into an Edinburgh Cheerleader Blogger. But reading gritty novels about contemporary Scotland has really helped me keep my romanticism in check. It’s so much more than the stereotypes. I like your blog about life in Paris because it isn’t romanticized and you go beyond the stereotypes! Maybe the Paris Cheerleaders need a few books about life in the HLMs and la banlieue.

    • Hi Sarah! Thank you for coming here. I’ve been having a great time checking in on your blog! Thank you for the return read. 🙂

      I’m with you on Scotland, at least what I remember of it from 1985 when I was 16 and was there. That was long before anything written by Diana Gabaldon. 🙂 But it made her writing attractive to me, too! (And men in kilts. *sigh*.) It’s very true that the realities of Scotland are more than the romanticized version, though — just like Paris. Just like anywhere. (Orrrrr, maybe the opposite. There are those places that no one wants to live or where people think it is the sticks — there are merits to the “ugly” places, too.)

      Maybe the Paris Cheerleaders need a few books about life in the HLMs and la banlieue.

      There is a lot of merit to this, and I want to figure out how to see more of this for myself. I do feel the need to bring some balance to the Force. 🙂

  26. Back after having read the post in detail.
    Cities, countries are similar to love affairs – some lasts a life-time and others are passionate and short-lived. I live in Paris as you know, but I do not blog about ‘Paris’ – or rather the ‘trendy’ things to do in Paris. Most readers want the ‘Fantasy’ of what Paris has to offer – of course with a spot of the author’s personality and so forth.

    • Hi Englishvers! Thank you for reading and returning. 🙂

      Most readers want the ‘Fantasy’ of what Paris has to offer – of course with a spot of the author’s personality and so forth.

      Yes, I think in general this is true. Then I get into the whole line of meta-thinking/writing about “What is a blog?” and “What should be written in a blog?” I really like it when people do what you do: blog about the things they truly like and appreciate in life. If it happens to be in Paris where someone writes, and writers like what they are doing, more power to those writers. But I know for me, I can only handle so much Paris Fantasy before it makes me gag.

      I totally agree about your comparison of love affairs and places. I addressed this in a blog about a year ago: Paris is Often Not My Kind of Girl.

      The rant-mentality I have here does build up for me, though. I’m just not someone that is really into all that is trendy, and want to see some of the deeper, more reflective things of life in blogs — the unique perspectives of individuals no matter where they live. So the fantasy-focused blogs get tough for me to see, over and over. I really do have to watch my intake! 🙂 It’s not that there is not a place for that style of blog — I am all for everyone finding his or her voice, and really pursuing their likes/things they want to read about.

      But what I really can’t tolerate after a while are people acting like sheep, and backing one another up in a false picture of what Paris is. It is a living, vibrant, colorful city in so many ways, and so much more than arrondissements 1-6! I guess I am going to have to do what Sarah says up there and *represent.* 😉 You know?

      Thanks, Englishvers.

  27. Boy am I sorry I took so long to read this post. If I had my druthers, I would start a divinely uncool blog about east goat’s ass Burgundy that might render all the swell Paris bloggers speechless. It would include, rampant alcoholism, profound poverty and geriatric loneliness and, yes, boredom, as well as really bad dental hygiene, widows in housedresses visiting the cemetery, my bitter former-Parisien neighbor who makes everyone in his path, French or expat, suffer his incessant grumbling and general unpleasantness, and, yes, I’m sorry, suicide.

    I heard the gun go off, as I stood in my kitchen the other morning. Yikes.

    I have to admit, when I read all the books that come from expats living in Paris claiming to know everything about what makes the French tick, I have to chuckle a bit because Paris, as popular and stunning and alluring and erotic as it is, is not France.

    • Hey Betsy!

      It would include, rampant alcoholism, profound poverty and geriatric loneliness and, yes, boredom, as well as really bad dental hygiene, widows in housedresses visiting the cemetery, my bitter former-Parisien neighbor who makes everyone in his path, French or expat, suffer his incessant grumbling and general unpleasantness, and, yes, I’m sorry, suicide.

      Yikes, indeed. There’s some reality that is not tinted by rose-colored glasses, isn’t there.

      I really do need to find a way to get out of the city and have a wider perspective because I really know deep inside, not only from your comments here, but partly out of common sense, too, what you write here:

      I have to chuckle a bit because Paris, as popular and stunning and alluring and erotic as it is, is not France.

      Heh!!

      Thank you for adding some reality to this post with your own experiences, Betsy. 🙂

  28. Pingback: Special Report: Discover Paris!™ « An Alien Parisienne

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