Friday aka belated links day

box town

Always belated. I will try to work on that.

But in the meantime … it’s moving day! Followed by a concert in New York, followed by a trip to New Jersey to meet my new niece, followed by the same concert in Philadelphia, followed by my return to the city, followed by sustained emotional and physical exhaustion. Can’t wait.

Without further ado, here are your weekend linky links:

The latest on (American) travel to Cuba.

The world’s smallest language has only 100 words. 

This is the only dictionary I looove. It’s endlessly fascinating.

How Parisian are you? (Somehow I scored a 66%, making me a “ham/butter.”)

How to keep that post-vacation feeling.

Philosophizing inspired by the Paris love locks’ removal.

“Le Selfie” and other Internet speak translated around the world. 

Love these photos of Paris in the 50’s. 

Five truths about quitting your job to travel.

The travel industry is getting hip to solo travel. 

New Yorkers: #SeeYourCity

[Photo: Kim Love]

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Scrabble en français

playing Scrabble in French

Not as fun as it sounds (to a nerd).

That may be why, months after we started this game and paused mid-way with the promise of picking it back up again soon… we have not.

Part of the problem is that we played with an English rather than a French set of letters. The number of tiles of each letter corresponds with how often that letter is used within the language, and the points for each letter are higher the rarer the letter is within the language. The English set caters to the English language; the French set would have been totally different. Which meant that even the fluent French speaker in our group was stumped when it came to forming remotely high-scoring words.

For fellow board game nerds:

English scrabble tile distribution

French scrabble tile distribution

L’Etranger: bof

The Stranger

Finally read the English version of The Stranger, a few weeks after finishing the French version. It took like two hours. I was happy to confirm that I had in fact understood the story, and that my impression from the French reading – that the main character seemed not so much existentially detached as developmentally disordered – stood firm. I know that was not Camus’ intention and that this literal interpretation of the text makes me somewhat dense, but so be it.

And now for your listening pleasure, the song running through my head the entire length of the book (here’s the connection):

[Photo: Anthony]

the pleasures of uncertainty

jet trail

My lease is up this Friday, and I’ll be subletting apartments on a (crazy) month to month basis so I don’t have to sign a new lease that would force me to stay in the city beyond the end of my work contract. I’ve committed to leaving for Senegal within a month of the last day of my temporary – also month to month – contract, which could be terminated any time between October 1 and April 19. This means that if I stick to my guns, I will be in Senegal in no more than ten months. (The hope is that by writing this in a public forum, I will stick to my guns out of pride, even if courage fails me.)

Apart from a hefty dose of fear and dread, the thought of traveling on a one-way ticket to West Africa also fills me with a sense of freedom and excitement that I haven’t felt since right after college when I decided to move to Los Angeles on a whim, sight unseen, with one suitcase, without friends, without job prospects, and without knowing how to drive. That heady mix of euphoria and nausea is back, baby!

[Photo: Tarik Browne]

speaking of vous’ing and tu’ing

vous vivez vous apprendrez

I just found this cute and handy flowchart that breaks down exactly when to address people with the formal French vous and when the informal tu is more appropriate.

It all comes down to the little box in the bottom right corner, I think. And yet, tu is always what pops out of my mouth first, because I guess I’m just a little punk.

[Photo: Marco Nunes]

the little Fr-engine that could

fr-engine says, "parle français à moi, bébé!"

Monday night, back at the French Meetup for the first time in quite awhile, I got into a conversation with a Parisian whose parents are from Côte d’Ivoire. It started with a discussion of the cultural and philosophical underpinnings of my embarrassment ‘vous‘ing strangers who are peers as opposed to elders or respected figures. Which led to a consideration of whether the United States or France has deeper ‘fractures sociales‘ between classes and races. Which led to him telling me the story of why and how his parents left Côte d’Ivoire for France. Which segued into a conversation about the weird rules of French colonialism. Which was followed by a summation (his) of the hundred-year social history running up to the Liberian civil war. Which brought us, in a roundabout way, to my Senegal dreams. And on and on…

When people ask me whether I speak French my answer is always no, because there’s so much French I don’t know, and so much I do know but muck up anyway. On nights like Monday, though, I marvel at all that I can say and understand, and I find myself thinking, “I do speak French.” No disclaimer or modifier necessary.

[Photo: Sputnick; terrible photoshopping: me]