Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Seating Arrangements

Today I was at a meeting of French and American dignitaries to discuss French/American cultural activities.  Just my cup of thé!

The American organizers asked the ranking French diplomatic officer to sit at the head of the large conference table.  "Non, non," he demurred, "we will sit across the table from each other."

So the French delegation was on one side, the Americans on the other.  "L'océan Atlantique au milieu!" I joked.

As we were settling in, I mentioned to my French colleagues how seating arrangements can vary so much culturally between France and the U.S.  "For example, the rule that in France a woman always sits on the banquette in a restaurant, and the man..." Before I could finish they all nodded appreciatively.  "In the U.S., that doesn't exist," I said.

"Ah," said monsieur, "Alors, that is because there aren't banquettes in the U.S.?"

"Si, si, il y a des banquettes," I said.  "Mais il n'y a pas de règle."

Monday, February 29, 2016

O Panic! O Thrill! I'm Moving to Paris (History 2006 version)

Is it possible to imagine the sheer excitement and thrill and bone-chilling what-the-hell-am-I doing  anxiety when you are about to embark on a move to Paris?

Well, that was me, one decade ago today.

Breathe, Polly, breathe, I told myself.

House was turned upside down.

I was busy moving my stuff into storage. Becoming best buddies with the consignment store.

Organizing my grown kids' stuff into their own separate storage units.

Figuring out bank accounts, mail, goldfish, phones. Not sure I was doing any of it right.

Breathe, Polly, breathe, I told myself.

Every day was panic and exhilaration.

I had friends and helpers, joyful and forceful, who boosted me when I needed it.

I knew it was right, but I was anxious.  Helpers insisted on Rescue Remedy. Friends and I insisted on wine.

Breathe, Polly, breathe, I told myself.

Then the email of emails arrived from my Paris landlady, whom I hadn't yet met:

"The apartment is waiting for you!  Do you prefer tea or coffee for breakfast?  We'll stock it for your arrival.  The bed is made up with fresh sheets, and all you have to do is arrive safely and collapse into bed. We are having friends for dinner the next day to welcome you to Paris."

Polly wept briefly and breathed a deep breath of relief. This would work. This would WORK!

And so I embarked on my Paris adventure, March 2006.
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