All posts tagged: big

2017: The Year in Books

2017 was a year I would quite happily burn into the ground. If it was a town I had invaded, I would plow salt into its fields and then burn the fields, and if they wouldn’t burn, I would wait until they had grown back a bit, and then burn them down again. So. There’s that. If 2017 was terrible, and it was, in all kinds of big and planet-destabilizing ways, I also found that it was terrible in small ways as well. (HA not that I’m literally just complaining.) One of them means quite a lot to me: the books that I read. I read six books this year. That’s one book every two months. I really want people to read, not least because I am writing a book. Apparently I am not taking my own advice. The good news was that what I did read was really good, beginning with…. Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada The main reason I only read six books this year was because what I did read was long …

Checked Bags

When I first came to France, I brought yoga tights and Wheat Thins plus as much Diet Coke as I could carry. When I flew home, I brought cheese, macarons, morning-bought bread, rose jam. That list has changed over the past three years. Now I bring toothpaste and deodorant. (Ours are better.) And when I come home, I bring prescription drugs and contact lenses: the things that help my body survive from one day to the next. * * * Something you might never guess about me is that I have always had health insurance. I have private American insurance and comprehensive expat insurance. I also live in a country where a doctor’s visit costs about $25. People are often surprised when I say this: There is something slightly witchy about a single woman over 30, and a disinterest in health insurance seems, I think, to be one of those things we might avoid, we witches, like compromise and caregiving. No, I say. I like having the bed to myself. I do not like millions of …

Hiking the Thames Path: Day 2

I am hiking the Thames Path, a path that follows the Thames for 180 miles, from the Thames Barrier in London to its source, near Cirencester.  Day Two: Vauxhall Tube to Hammersmith Bridge So: day two! The start was not a particularly inspirational one: In addition to smashing the screen of my phone into a million small pieces (to record the Pulitzer-worthy sight of a cyclist wearing a yellow vest), I also destroyed my earphones. After nearly being sold a pair of fake Apple earphones, I turned around and took the Tube into central London to go to the Apple store. Really, if you are at the Apple store at 9:50 a.m. on a Monday morning, you have made a serious error/dropped something within the previous 12 hours. And then I couldn’t avoid stopping at the Waterstone’s. And getting lunch (to pack, at least) at Eat. In short: No walking was done (in the intended direction, at least) until 11 a.m. (So much for that 7 a.m. start.) The good news was that once I …

kaysersberg

Weekend Trip: Kaysersberg

Weekend destination: Kaysersberg, Alsace Why: It’s the prettiest village in France! Also, hiking. Total travel time, door to door: Going out: 3:45 (Uber-direct TGV-cab). Coming back: 5 hours (bus-direct TGV-metro) Time spent: Three nights Glad I went? Yeah — it was neat to get a look at a part of France so different from Paris and the Normandy/Brittany corridor I know best Would I go back? Maybe, at Christmas 1. Kaysersberg itself Kaysersberg was just named France’s prettiest villages, a title which I personally feel is as meaningful as World’s Most Adorable Puppy or The Planet We Like Best. Still: It is exceptionally pretty, and after endless miles of limestone in Paris, all the colorful timber-frame houses were hallucinogenic. (Normandy, say, has plenty of timber-frames, but they’re nearly always white.) It is, for sure, a tourist town: I was worried about finding an ATM, only to find that there’s one on every other block, no doubt to facilitate the purchase of stuffed storks or Alsace-themed soup rests. 2. A hike led by a magical tree I don’t …

val du marne roseraie

Paris Field Trip: Roseraie du Val-de-Marne

Destination: Roseraie du Val-de-Marne What’s happening: This is an unbelievably beautiful rose garden within easy reach of central Paris. How I got there: The stupid way. Don’t go this way. Instead of entering the garden into my phone like an adult, I instead headed for the town where it’s located: L’Haÿ-les-Roses. I took the RER B to Parc de Sceaux (well worth its own field trip). From Parc de Sceaux, I had a 20-minute walk — to the center of town. From there, realizing my error, I had another 20-minute walk to the garden itself. On the way back, I went the smart way: Bus 172 to Bourg-le-Reine RER B. That, unlike the original trip, was a snap — about 40 minutes door [of bus] to door [of my apartment]. Entry fee: €3.10 Verdict: This place is awesome. The Roseraie du Val-de-Marne is a beyond-beautiful rose garden in a park with quite a lovely view north, toward Paris. (You can see the top of the Eiffel Tower, if you look.) That the garden exists at all is thanks to Jules Gravereaux, who retired at …

how to move to france

It’s Easier Than Ever To Move To France. Here’s Why.

Here’s why it’s easier than ever to move to France. And this is not a fake reason like, “Because you’ve never been less scared in your whole life!” or “Because after a lifetime of saying Oui mais non! the only answer must be Non mais ouiiiii!” There are a million ways to live full- or part-time in France — this is just mine; if you’re a student, spouse, fiancé, entrepreneur, artist, whatever, there’s a different path and an entirely different set of paperwork to assemble. And this does not pertain to work visas. Work visas? I have literally no idea. This pertains specifically to a long-stay visitor’s visa: a visa de long séjour — visiteur. A long-stay visitor’s visa is a very good visa for a writer to have. Stay as long as you like: The three-months-in-three-months-out Schengen rule does not apply to you. Have a nice time, drink wine. Renew it in a year. If you don’t like renewing it in a year, consider the skills and talents visa (la carte compétences et talents), if you are skillful and talented. Most …

Bienvenue à New York

A week after the Bataclan massacre, I flew home to New York for Thanksgiving on an OpenSkies flight. Each of those details matters: That it was only a week. That it was the day before Thanksgiving. That I was flying to New York — which, as a New Yorker, I know to be the best city in the world, and thus, the most attractive possible target to those who would injure America, regardless of our own distinct politics, regardless of the fact that we are the best example of myriad communities living in fractious harmony, drooling on each other as we sleep on the Q train. Also, that I was flying on OpenSkies. This is a strange, little airline, a subsidiary of British Airways that flies only between Paris and New York. Half its cabin is business or first class; the few remaining seats are given to us proletariats in economy. Flight attendants offer us iPads. We are the 99% in the back, but there are so few of us, and the iPads are so soothing. As …

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 …

Today I Was Accused of Shoplifting and It Was Kind of Awesome

Un dimanche soir, Maubert Isabeau se disposait à se coucher, lorsqu’il entendit un coup violent dans la devanture grillée et vitrée de sa boutique. Il arriva à temps pour voir un bras passé à travers un trou fait d’un coup de poing. Le bras saisit un pain et l’emporta. … C’était Jean Valjean. First, as I believe it is customary, I begin my story about being accused of shoplifting by saying I am no Jean Valjean, stealing bread for my family — which is a terrible situation to be in, and something to think about as I share a city with thousands of migrants and refugees who cannot enter a supermarket as I can: with the knowledge that as long as I avoid the aisle with the very expensive whiskey, I can pay for what I see. I thought about that quite a bit after I was accused of shoplifting: how my experience, which, while amazing in a very sideways sort of way, was made possible — and ridiculous, rather than threatening — because of …

Protests Here, and At Home

My first real apartment in Paris was a one-bedroom sublet above boulevard Beaumarchais. This was exciting because I had never lived in a one-bedroom before, even if the kitchen was so small you had to walk through it sideways. Also, I stole my neighbor’s vacuum cleaner for three hours before putting it back. I feel bad about that. I didn’t know it at the time, but boulevard Beaumarchais is a central route for Parisian protests, connecting, as it does, place de la République and Bastille. Every other weekend, it seemed, someone was marching down the boulevard. My favorite were the farmers, whose demands I did not understand but who always brought ponies. The farmers and the ponies would march to or from République, municipal cleaners would magically descend upon the street to clean up after the ponies, and the traffic would resume. It was magical for two reasons. One: You don’t get to see a lot of ponies in the middle of a city, and that is exciting. Two: I had never experienced a culture …