New Flophouse Address:

You will find all the posts, comments, and reading lists (old and some new ones I just published) here:

Friday, December 31, 2010

Flophouse Favorites#1bis - Ready for the New Year

I stopped by the salon this afternoon and asked Sabine if she could show me how to put my hair up in a "chignon" so I could be elegant for tonight's festivities.

Sabine sat me down, served me an espresso and went to work.

The result was, well, quite amazing.

Happy New Year everyone!


Choosing a place

My eldest Frenchling is in her last year of high school here in France. She has passed the first part of her baccalaureate and will pass her final exams at the end of this school year.
For the next step, she is much better equipped then I was at her age. When I was 17 I spoke one language and had never been outside of my home country. My daughter has lived in three countries, is bi-lingual and has two passports. France or the United States are within easy reach. In addition she has family and friends in both countries that will help whatever she chooses to do.

But that is indeed the conundrum because this time around she will have to choose for herself.

Will she stay in France? Move to the United States? Or will she find a Third Place?

A suivre….

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Flophouse Favorite #1 - L'Or de Saba

I am often solicited for advice about Paris - nice places to eat, good shops, salons and so forth - that are a bit off the beaten path.  These are places that were recommended to me by friends, colleagues and vendors (thank you, IBM...) or in a few rare cases I discovered them myself when I was tootling around the city.  These are places I like enough to go back to on a regular basis.

L'Or de Saba (39 rue Taitbout, 75009 Paris)

Since 1989 I have been looking for a really good hair salon in Paris.  My first haircut in France (I was living in Courbevoie at the time) was a complete disaster.  I obviously misunderstood the customer/service relationship.  To make a long story short, I asked for a short hair cut and the hairdresser violently disagreed.  "I refuse to make a woman look like a boy," she said.  She won, I lost, and it's been the same depressing story with every salon I have been to since.

Until I found the L'Or de Saba.  This is a very small salon near the Galeries Lafayette run by two charming ladies, Laure and Sabine. The service is excellent.  Sabine has a sense of adventure - she will try just about anything you have in mind because, as she says, "It's just hair and if you don't like the way it turns out, then we'll do something else".  To date she has never had to resort to a plan b.  Everything she has done to my hair has turned out spectacularly well.  Laure gives amazing facials and has managed to make my skin look as good as that of the Parisien women I work with.

So, if you just happen to be shopping in the 9th arrondissement near the "grands magasins" and you have a couple of hours free, stop by and see if they have an opening.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Always a Resident. Never a Citizen

This subject comes up every time I have to renew my French residency permit. I just received my third 10 year Carte de resident which means I am entering my third decade of association with this strange tribe. Inevitably I am asked (at the prefecture, at work and at home) why I don't just apply for citizenship. After all, they say, it would save me a lot of paperwork. To which I reply, "Let me see if I understand the reasoning here? You are suggesting that I should become a French citizen so I don't have to deal with your bureaucracy once every 10 years?" And we all have a good laugh.

Occasionally the conversation takes a negative turn. “Perhaps it is not interesting to be a French citizen?” And then I must summon all my powers of diplomacy to soothe hurt feelings and ruffled fur.

Because it’s not rejection – I love France. If I didn’t have the deepest respect and love for this country and its culture I would have never have raised my children here.

But I love being an American citizen. I am often asked if I suffer here because of anti-Americanism. Not really. I realized long ago that the French preoccupation with the U.S. is actually quite a compliment. There is an entire industry, armies of intellectuals, which study and critique the U.S. When people here meet me for the first time they are never neutral about me or my country. Love it or hate it, they are positively obsessed by it. Which I personally find rather fascinating and it makes for great if sometimes heated conversations every single day.

And regardless of the country I live in, I am passionately attached to my country of origin. Nearly 20 years of wandering has not changed one whit my deep and abiding love for the US of A. As an American living in France, I can revel in my status as Exotic Beast and enjoy a high level of intellectual stimulation. If you balance those two things against the rather tepid arguments from my French friends and family about the benefits of becoming a French citizen, the status quo wins hands down. I am simply having too good a time and enjoying the show way too much to want to trade in my residency papers for a passport.