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Why You Actually Should Move to Paris

Short answer: Paris is as good as you think it is. Second short answer: Because there is nowhere better to learn to understand beauty. The long answer is longer. When I first came to Paris, I had a writing job that was a dream in that it paid a living wage and that it paid that wage on time. I could also live wherever I liked, as long as I was online between 10 AM and 6 PM Eastern time. I planned to stay in Paris until I perfected my French (allotted time: eight weeks) and then head elsewhere. Six weeks later, we’d all been fired, I spoke approximately three additional words of French, and I was in love with my Airbnb host. By the time we broke up, a few months later, I was hooked — on Paris. In Paris, I found a poor laboratory for language learning (everyone speaks English, everyone is in a hurry) but a singular workspace for un moment de calme, if you know what I mean. A 10-to-6 work schedule in New …

Je T’Ecoute

Every Sunday I’m in Paris, even if I’m only there for a couple days, I try to go to Franglish, the non-sexual language-instruction speed-dating-style event I have mentioned here previously, in which you’re paired off with a French speaker and take turns speaking in the two languages. I love Franglish even if it always, inevitably ends with two language learners with their head in their hands, their brains about to explode from 90 minutes of trying to explain themselves in unfamiliar words. Here’s how my most recent Franglish ended: I tried to tell Romain, the architect I was paired off with last (after the 19-year-old French girl who said she’d returned to France from the U.S. to be with her boyfriend but that he worked all the time so now she used Tinder to make friends, to which my puritanical, American self responded: “Friends? Really?”). He had said he liked to draw, so I told him to send me an email if he put his drawings on a website: “Oh hey if you get a website let me …

are parisians rude

Are Parisians Rude?

The question I am asked most often: “But aren’t Parisians so rude?” There is no good way to answer this question. My personal belief is that all people are kind in roughly the same way. Once I went for a walk between two small French villages, and one of the pathways between them was a narrow country road. A woman stopped her car and asked if I needed a ride, or some help. I told her thank you, but no—I was taking a walk. (Actually what I said was, “Thank you but no am walk now.”) That same day, I saw a mother carrying a child drop a packet of tissues on the metro floor, and another woman picked them up and ran down two corridors to return them. It’s the same sort of thing you’ll see in New York or San Francisco or Tokyo or any other place where humans exist: In my experiences as a traveler, people are kind more often than not. That said. That said. I have also found that unhappy …

The L Words: Love, Marriages and Loneliness

Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness. Despite the beauty of Justice Kennedy’s prose  — and it is beautiful, most of it; it reminds me, in its way, of the closing passage of Thornton Wilder’s “Bridge of San Luis Rey,” and we’ll get back to that in a minute — it does, in those words, obscure its point: No American citizen should be denied access to an institution of the government, a position we have long held here, including with the production of now-irrelevant glitter maps. I feel like Kennedy was perhaps less interested in suggesting that a life without marriage is such poor broth — and yet there it is. There is something so final and damning about the word “loneliness,” a 21st-century emotional leprosy for those who failed to heed Princeton Mom’s instruction to lock one in before the Botox. Most people marry. I expect I will, too, one day, the same way I expect to visit Bhutan, own a Saab, and never kiss a monkey because I just absolutely hate monkeys. But I am happy either way! …