Friday, August 13, 2010

Feeling Like an Alien

One time, many years ago, I bought an Atlanta Rhythm Section record solely for the song "Alien" in which the pinnacle line was "Feeling like an alien." As I recall, the rest of the record was underwhelming but that line has come back to me a number of times over the last few years living in France.

Now ... I like France, I like the French, and I like living in Paris. But sometimes, the alien-ness hits me. Usually it's a very basic situation like arriving at the Franprix checkout having forgotten to weigh my sweet potatoes and forgetting the French for, well, "I forgot to weigh these sweet potatoes." ["J'ai oubliƩ peser ceux potates douces" for those of you scoring at home. And no, I don't know why the French use "potate" for sweet potatoes while using "pomme de terre" for normal potatoes.] Anywho, it's a pretty exposed, embarrassing situation. The checker just wants you to check the hell out!

So today: role reversal. I was in a San Francisco Tumi store checking out some brief cases where 2 French dudes were shopping too. They didn't speak any English and, so, they were having no luck interacting with the sales staff. I said "pardon" as I slipped past them and, based on that one French word, 10 minutes later they approached me and asked me to explain US pricing and sales tax. This, of course, is a bit puzzling to Europeans because, in Europe, the taxes are embedded in the advertised prices whereas, here in the US of A, we add taxes as a surprise at the register. That led to a 15 minute French conversation on various topics. Turns out they were from Nantes - and so SF was kind of a big city experience for them.

Well anyway, it was kind of a cool karma moment or a marker (or Ebeneezer for those of you scoring from church). Aliens. Yeah. Sometimes I am one. Other times I can minimize the sensation for someone else.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Scott and Hilary's checklist for their last day in Paris yesterday. The important stuff got checked off.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

L'Eglise Saint-Louis en l'Ile

Scott had an outstanding idea to catch some live music today. So we took in a baroque organ/trumpet concert at L'Eglise Saint-Louis en l'Ile. It was a great concert inside an impossibly beautiful building. And I can't think of a better use for that setting than quality, live music.