All posts filed under: essays

paris bataclan attacks

Kind of a Funny Story.

Let me jump directly to the point where we think we are about to die: I am sitting in the Café de l’Industrie with A., the cousin-once-removed I have never met before, when I turn to the windows and see people streaming by. “Oh,” I say. It’s the Rollerbladers, I think, because it is Paris, and it is Sunday night — this is important, that it is Sunday, and not Friday — and there always seem to be parades of Rollerbladers Rollerblading down the street on Sunday evening. “Oh,” I say, turning, even as I’m realizing that they are not Rollerblading but running — but from what? From something. I am turning toward A. but also, now, realizing that everyone in the café — which is packed, not a seat to be had — is up and then down and then on the floor. A., somehow, is under the bench, on which I am sitting — and how did that happen? Words cannot convey my surprise. OK! I think. This is the part where we all get on the floor! 

facebook lie

I Am a Part of the Facebook Lie

I’ve been home for the last 10 days, on a trip that’s been sort of equal parts fantastic and terrible—the kind where your mom says things like, “I know this trip has been terrible” and then you both start talking about the new puppy. But let’s talk about the fantastic bit, or, to stay with the theme, the terrible part of the fantastic bit. Without a doubt, the best part about coming home is seeing people. My trips home are always so poorly both planned and executed that they end up involving a grab bag of friends I have known my entire life and friends I have known much, much less time than that. I am thinking, for the moment, of one of the very, very new friends. We had tacos (wonderful) and margaritas (delicious) at my favorite bar (convenient!) and then she started saying that she wished she, like me, lived (sort of lives) in France. (It’s pretty easy!) Now, I know—she was just being nice, and complimentary, and that’s what people do when …

dudes like me more the dumber i am

Dudes Like Me More the Dumber I Am

I was eating a burrito and wondering if anyone else had noticed that the Best Picture nominees were the stories of, like, a half-dozen white guys and Martin Luther King (at least we know where the bar is set for the non-white guy portion of the population) when I came across this story: Apparently guys are less interested in confident ladies. And it got me thinking. Typically I might not have much to add to this particular discussion—except for the fact that I recently took a deep dive, shall we say, into the world of French real estate. For what seemed like a Captain Ahab-looking-for-Moby Dick amount of time, I went and looked at French apartments. All kinds of apartments, with bathrooms in the bedrooms and canal views and weird  carpeting and one with a bathroom so big, and a shower stall so small, that I just kept saying that I could use the extra space to rear pigs, which I’m sure endeared me to the realtor to absolutely no end.

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.

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. 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! One of the happiest days of my life was the day before …