We were watching The Holiday.

(You know, the movie with Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet, and they switch houses for Christmas and then fall in love and stuff? And Jude Law has two tiny daughters who each have their own cellphone. Don’t get me started on that plot point.)

Right, so we were watching The Holiday, and we got to this scene. (Skip to 1:40 to get to my point.) Iris (aka Kate Winslet) is telling Arthur about the jackass she left back in England, and Arthur simply says, “So he’s a schmuck.”

Hugo paused the movie. “Ça veut dire quoi, un schmuck?” he asked me.

“Um, a schmuck is like, a not nice guy. Kind of a jerk. Or like, a stupid person you don’t like.” He repeated it a few times. “Schmuck. Schmuck? Schmuck!”

And we carried on with the movie. (Spoiler alert – Kate Winslet got rid of her schmuck and Cameron Diaz learned to cry. Hooray.)

The next day, we were on the road and Hugo wanted to stop at McDo, but I disagreed. “Noooon, pas McDo, not McDonald’s!” I groaned. He looked at me sideways with a glint in his eye and exclaimed, “Schmuck!”

For the next few days, he wielded his new word with relish at any opportunity that prompted an insult.

“Tu as mangé le dernier biscuit! You ate the last cookie! Schmuck!”

And just now: “Hey chéri, you said it was okay for me to blog about when you learned the word ‘schmuck’ right?”

“Non, schmuck! …just kidding, tu peux.”


I always hesitate to blog about funny things Hugo says in English because I don’t want it to seem like I’m making fun of him – really, his English is excellent. He can keep up in conversations with my family and anglophone friends so well that I never worry about it. He can properly pronounce “squirrel” and “hungry” which we all know is quite an accomplishment. But sometimes he says stuff like “Your feets are cold!” and “It’s in minty condition” which I think is so, so cute. But maybe it’s less cute if you’re not dating him, which I assume no one else is. 

For a truly hilarious blog about an American expat’s foreign spouse’s English quips, you must read Oh My God My Wife Is German. Trust me.



Return to Paris

I hadn’t been to Paris since September, which is a long time considering I only live two hours away. I’ve actually been to California more recently than Paris, and that’s about a twelve hour flight. Hm. What do you think of that?

I love Paris, I really do, and when I got off the train at Gare de Lyon in May I was thrilled to be back. Of course it was crowded and the weather was more bipolar than Russell Brand (it all makes sense now, doesn’t it?) but it was lovely to stroll through the 12th past where I used to go to the Marché d’Aligre and to walk up those tall bridges over Canal Saint Martin.

Gare de Lyon, Paris
Gare de Lyon, Paris

My favorite thing to do in Paris is walk. This is probably why I didn’t care to make the trip all winter long – it’s no fun to stroll in the wind and cold (although I did miss the Christmas window displays – no one dresses up for the holidays like the Grands Magasins of Paris). On the day I arrived back in Paris, the weather was warm and stormy, fluctuating from sunny to rainy countless times throughout the afternoon. It was humid and windy and reminded me of an indecisive June in Chicago.

I walked from the 12th to the 5th to visit a close friend and her nine-month-old, then back to the 12th to crouch over my laptop for an hour before hopping on the métro to République. I never spent much time in République when I lived in Paris, but I love the expansive place that serves as a stage and a meeting point. I’ve lived on the ritzy left bank, and I’ve lived north of Montmartre – next time I live in Paris, I’d love for it to be around here, in one of these eastern arrondissement pockets.

Place de la Republique
Place de la Republique

After rosé and charcuterie at Chez Prune on a street corner terrace opposite the Canal that was just barely protected from the multiple (!!) flash storms that poured downed, we walked down the Canal and out of the 10th all the way to Bastille. My friend discovered that a bar she had loved during her student days had changed hands. It’s funny how so much of Paris stands still in time, unchanging through decades and centuries, and how rapidly the rest of the city is constantly evolving.

Canal Saint Martin
Canal Saint Martin, Paris 10th arrondissement

I always say I prefer living in Lyon to Paris, and it’s true. I breathed a sigh of relief upon returning – no more fighting through crowds, constantly worrying about pickpockets, or passing through the stench of urine. So freeing to go out in public without having to hold your purse and your nose for dear life, don’t you think?

But it can’t be denied that Paris is a city unique and alive, so multifaceted that one person can never know all of its secrets. That’s the charm of it, isn’t it?

On writing (it gets better, right?)

I’m a voracious devourer of online content. Particularly, blogs. I loooove blogs. I think it all started when I was getting ready to move to France, and I discovered the wondrous wealth of expat blogs. Now I read all kinds of blogs – I’ve stacked up over 100 in my Bloglovin’ feed, and that’s not even counting all the Twitter links I click on. Travel blogs, lifestyle blogs, design blogs, professional blogs, cooking blogs, blogging blogs – I read it all. Friends actually mock me for all the blog reading I do. Can you believe them?

The topic of blogging and online content in general fascinates me. As a perpetual job-hunter and post-quarter-life-crisis-soul-seeker, I often try to imagine what my dream job would be, and even though I’m still not sure, I’m often drawn to things editorial-related. The problem is, these jobs ask you to produce your writing samples, your blogs, etc, and for all that I say my writing and editing skills are top-notch, I haven’t actually, um, like, written stuff.  I mean, Instagram captions and emails, sure, but I feel like they’re looking for more. Hm. It’s not that I haven’t thought about it – the idea of blogging interests me greatly. For a non-blogger, I read a lot about blogging… but quite frankly, it sounds like a lot of work.

Bloggers who blog about blogging say that it takes a huge amount of time and effort to blog. They say you have to pour your heart (and all your free time) into your blog for at least year before you see any return. Is that true?

I don’t mean to sound wishy-washy, but that sounds like a big commitment to me. I mean, yes, my life is extremely fascinating, and yes, I know lots of useful and interesting things that I’d like to share with other people, and yes, I take some of the best iPhone photos around, but I don’t know that I’m cut out to blog. I don’t even know if I like to write! I love to read, and I love to edit, but that doesn’t necessarily equal loving to write. That would be like saying all people who love to talk also love to listen… and we all know that’s not true.

There’s something else I consistently read about blogging and writing: the more you write, the better you get. The more you write, the more you find your style and your voice. That it takes time.

And so, even though I might suck, and even though I don’t know how WordPress works, and even though I cringe at marketing myself, I don’t care. For now, I’m happy to experiment and awkwardly immortalize this time in France. Besides, I can’t be the worst thing on the internet, right?