Tuesday, June 24, 2014

More reasons you know you've been in France too long (summer edition)

Frightening but true, summer time seems to bring out the latent French person in me.  I hear myself thinking or saying things that are oh so français that I might need to check the nationality on my passport again. So in addition to those normal French-isms we expats can experience, here's a quick list to see how French one can become once June 21st rolls around.

1. You can't stop thinking about your vacation and you know about everyone else's holiday plans down to the last detail.  Blame it on the generous five weeks a year holiday plan in this country.  The French are obsessed with vacations.  But it's even more apparent in the summer.  Some folks routinely spend two or three weeks in the south of France.  Once June rolls around people can't concentrate on much else. 

2. Any excuse is perfect for eating outside or in a sidewalk café.  We are lucky to have a balcony to eat on when we feel like it and the weather is behaving.  And when I walk through the main squares in my town on a nice evening, I see crowds of diners outside eating as if it is their birthright.  It is sort of a way of life in the warm months around here.

3. Apéro!  Along with eating outside, summer rhymes with cocktails, or apéro.  This is also a sacred tradition around here.  There are many variations but it generally consists of a glass of rosé or your favorite cocktail or cold drink with chips and salty snacks. It's just a great excuse to get together and snack and drink (in moderation!).  Our 70ish year old neighbor even said we should come by for "apéro" some time!

Check out this campy scene from the French movie Camping.  Warning, guy in speedo!

4.  You put off any serious plans till September.  Cause, really, what's the point? Some companies close in August completely.  How do they expect us to get any work done?  I hear my students who are looking for a job say they'll just relax now that summer is here and start seriously looking in September.  And they're right.  Even job ads dry up in the summer.

5. You have an intense desire to clean your car inside and out.  This is intimately linked with the vacation time.  I just never seemed to notice Americans getting so gung ho about cleaning their car before heading off to the beach (since the car will just get sandy anyway).  The French, however, start vacuuming and cleaning with religious fervor come late June.  It's a telltale sign that your neighbor is about to leave for a few weeks.

Well, this list will only have five points since I'm already experiencing that summer laziness.  But I'll leave you with a few pics of us enjoying the long days of sunshine.

Juliette blowing bubbles at a British garden party.

Me and my shadow.
Sand pit and our shadows.
So enjoy summer and don't forget, apéro at my place!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Child of the 80s

No, I haven't forgotten I promised another installment of the musical odyssey of my life.  After Child of the 70s, here it is, folks, my tops from the 80s.

Picture it, little Milam with pony tails blissing out on her parents' big stereo system and requesting to listen to Hall and Oates (the album or cassette, I'm guessing).  Heard this song just yesterday in the car, and, as always, had to turn it up and start groovin'.

Come on, I dare you NOT to dance to that one.

In the 80s I was old enough to understand things, or think that I understood things.  Videos like this one by Adam Ant were a bit tantalizing though I couldn't necessarily put my finger on why.

This guy was like the precursor to Jame Franco sexiness!  But his video is positively tame compared to most today.

And while we're on the subject of Brits, Billy Idol had some raw energy that was fun to sing along to.  I remember being a wee bit scared by this video as a child.

But my ultimate British bad boy and first crush had to be Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran.  I clearly remember standing on my bed to give my poster of the band the occasional kiss.

The hair, the eyes, the camouflage make-up. Oh. Yeah.

Now that I think about it, the Brits were quite prominent on the 80s music scene.  Also love this funky one by Wham.

Man, I think I could go on all day.  The 80s were really my formative years, my musical awakening.  And there were indeed some great, memorable songs.

But the 80s were also the start of a life-long love affair with a particular New Zealand/Australian band.  Thanks to my aunt Jane and my mom, I heard the minor keys and alternatingly upbeat and melancholy sounds of Crowded House.  Their most well-known song is this one, but don't limit yourself to it.  Their range, and that of now solo artist Neil Finn is amazing.  These guys are really the soundtrack of my life.

Wow, so young!  This video is actually very beautifully-filmed as well.

After that little trip down memory lane, I can't help but smile.  I wonder if one day when I'm in a retirement home they'll put on cd's of 80s music the way they put on songs from the 50s at the nursing home now.  I think I'll be groovin' with my walker.

So I can't wait to hear your favorite 80s songs!