Monday, July 30, 2012

Am-eeeer-ica!

We're here and loving it.  When I come back it's just like, well, coming home.  And yet, since I've been away a year and a half, it's also as if I have the eyes of a French tourist.  The cars are bigger, as are the parking lots and streets.  I am here in rather ritzy West Palm Beach for the moment and it does seem as if the people are more glamorous.  And dare I say, friendlier and chattier sometimes.

The first night we stopped by Walgreens to get Juju some cough medicine and I felt like I was in heaven just checking out all the familiar items on the shelves and asking the pharmacist questions in my own language.  Ah, yes, this is where I come from.  This is me just as much as I have also become the one who chats with her French baker and walks over the cobbled streets in my French town. 

I'm so glad Juliette has this time to reconnect with her American family and the other side of her culture.  We had taught her to spot American flags on tv or objects back in France and now she's having a field day seeing them right and left here.  And enjoying some serious spoiling from my mom, sister and aunt! 

So to really concentrate on enjoying myself and soaking it all in, every last bit of it, I think I'll take a cue from Crystal and not post so much while here.  I'm trying to limit myself to only two email checks a day, too (gasp!), cause email will always be there, but I'm only in the US every so often.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Soggy summer

Greetings from very wet/misty, grey France. July has been a dud in terms of weather. The weather ladies and men keep promising us sun but there is very little of it. Luckily I know I'll be getting plenty of sun and hot (even stifling) temperatures when I go back HOME in a week and a half! Can't wait and I intend to enjoy every minute of my vacation and spending time with family and friends. Sometimes I think I can only truly be myself when I'm back home, though I think I've made progress letting my real personality come out in France (family-in-law aside where I sometimes have to bite my tongue...). Yes, three glorious weeks in the good old US of A. I so need it!

Despite the grey weather, I really have been enjoying myself already these past two weeks since I'm no longer in school. I started back at work and it's going ok. It's weird to speak English all day again as I'd really gotten used to cutting up with my classmates in French. I was a bit hesitant about being a teacher again but I think it's come back to me and I do like the contact with the students. So we could say being back at work is practically like being on vacation already as it's great to chill with my English-speaking coworkers and rediscover my American accent (if you can believe it!). Sure, I do speak English with Juju every day, but not necessarily the way I would with an adult.

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been taking advantage of my freer time to do things like baking and some house cleaning and finishing books I started a year ago. Banana chocolate cake, sugar cookies...I may even try my hand at some cake pops this Saturday for a little birthday bash for Juliette. Thanks to aunt Sunny for sending me the scrumptious recipe book. Anybody out there tried those yet?

And as every time I go back home, I start reflecting a bit on how things will have changed back there and how long I've been away. There are days I feel downright Frenchie in my habits (drinking morning milk out of a bowl and often eating dinner at 8), but don't be fooled, I'm still American in my roots and my general way of thinking.

How about a little list of the American things about me I'll never lose...

1. My love for relaxed sleepwear. Crystal knows what I mean! I don't know if this is strictly American, but while watching 500 Days of Summer the other day, I noticed how the girl was wearing striped pajama bottoms and it just seemed so American. Especially since Remi sometimes doesn't get how cozy this is.

(source: ex.com)

2. The need to say "Dude!" at any time. I don't know if real (current) Americans still say this, but sometimes the need is overwhelming. And I just feel quite myself when I say it.

3. A love of customer service. I may be getting used to frowning or just blasé French customer service. But I just melt when I call a US number and hear a cheery midwestern voice ask me how she can help me.

4. Sarcastic American humor. Even though it gets to me when the teens on Disney shows use it all the time, I think it really is part of our culture to come back with one-liners and jibes. Strangely, this aspect of humor is really hard to translate and most times Remi still isn't sure when I'm joking or really angry.

5. I love me a good burger. Not just McDonald's, but a nice homemade one. I've started a burger night that we observe at least every month. Along with breakfast dinner.

6. An unabashed love of convenience! This is why I love my dryer and wonder how I lived without it for so long in France. I barely ever iron now. Two years now and I still sometimes marvel at my Whirlpool.

Don't know if I've convinced you that I really still am American. Perhaps I'm more of a hybrid now, whether I want to be or not. Expats are probably confronted with this duality all their lives, even if they go back to their home country. Maybe home is just a state of mind anyway.

What makes you typical of your nationality?