the weekend is here…

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… and I have a few links — all from the New York Times — burning a hole in my inbox pocket. So before I leave you to your weekend adventuring, here they are:

This is science fiction come to life. Since I was a little kid frustrated by having to put my ideas into words, I have yearned for a tool that could read my mind and transfer my pre-verbalized thoughts into another person’s brain, and vice versa. I never, ever thought it was actually possible. Well, this comes pretty close:

Meanwhile, this is the story of the last three years of my life, and perhaps it resonates with your life story as well?:

I’ve been thinking a lot about “fair trade tourism” recently, and I intend to write about it here as soon as I have time to compose my wide-ranging thoughts in a somewhat organized manner. In the meantime, I found this article on ethical travel thought-provoking — especially how narrowly they defined the term for the purposes of the article.

When I read the article below, it sounded highly familiar. I searched my blog and lo and behold, four years ago, in a blog post with an almost identical title to this one, I linked to an earlier New York Times article about this same exact subject. It remains fascinating.

Sorry you don’t have this view from your office (I don’t either – it’s Mamie’s)

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While my Internet connection Chez Lo is faster now than it was two years ago (when it was basically non-existent), it is still not great. And that is why it has taken me two days and counting to upload my Vodoun Festival videos to YouTube so that I can share my next installment in the Benin-Togo-Ghana chronicles.

Hopefully I’ll be able to post them early next week, but in the meantime, here are some links I stockpiled so that I could one day share them here for your reading pleasure:

An amusing essay: Does Duolingo even work?

I’ve posted here before about untranslatable words in other languages. It’s interesting to see what the French consider to be untranslatable words in English.

Here’s an article from a few months ago – about why the French don’t show excitement – that is actually quite apropos for me to share now, the same week as my post about funny faux amis.

Even passive exposure can help you discriminate speech in another language, so put on that background radio/TV/computer/iPad!

That reminds me of the Paul Noth cartoon in the New Yorker that made me seriously LOL a couple of weeks ago:

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And with that, I’m walking away from my screen and going to bed.

Oh, wait, before I do.. one more insightful and ever so slightly relevant thing I read ages ago but never shared (and which reminds me, perversely, to encourage you to check out my Instagram profile if you want to see some of my vacation pix ahead of me posting them here):

Good night and good weekend, all!

[Saturday addendum via Irene Pedruelo‘s listserve: this essay on “privilege-centered design” is relevant well beyond design. Amazing quote: “If we only observe and imagine those who resemble ourselves, then what we call empathy is merely introspection.”]

Logical fallacies

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I tend to beat myself up about things: “Why did you say that?” “You shouldn’t have done that.” “What the hell was that about?”

I’ve made an effort to be more self-forgiving – to treat myself as I would a friend – but when I muddle things up in French, the compulsion to judge myself harshly is pretty strong.

Here are some counterarguments I’ve started making to shut down the self-flagellation. Continue reading

Allez les Lions! (Also, Vamos, vamos Argentina!)

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Less than a year and a half ago, I boarded a plane in Dakar bound for New York. As I stepped off the collapsible staircase and through the door of the plane, I realized that I had effectively left Senegalese soil and I had to hold back tears. A few drops squeezed out despite my best efforts and as they slowly rolled down my cheeks, I imagined that I must look like a bad French new wave film.

Before I realized that the cabin crew was 100% American, I apologetically explained to the flight attendant whose eye I had accidentally caught, “Je pars…,” and then I trailed off sheepishly. She smiled at me with the truly soft and sympathetic look of someone who has borne witness to this scene a million times, and she said simply, “I know.” I am not sure she did actually know what I had said, but she knew what my tears meant. I am leaving. I don’t know when I’ll be back. And it feels like I’m leaving a bit of my heart behind.

I thought of that moment on Tuesday evening as I crossed over the East River from Manhattan into Brooklyn. The sun was setting, and New York was at its most beautiful. Earlier that morning I had been briefly and emotionally reunited with the country I hadn’t been ready to leave, and it was wonderful.

That’s all a very melodramatic way to say that I watched the Senegal v. Poland game from a Senegalese cafe in Crown Heights, and I ate Senegalese food for the first time since being in-country, and I heard Wolof and West African-accented French all around me, and when Senegal won I may as well have been in Dakar for all the joy in me and surrounding me.

I am so thankful that New York is a city where you can experience a little bit of the magic of every other country on earth. And it is especially magical at World Cup time.

I’m going back to the cafe on Sunday for the Senegal v. Japan game and what I hope is a repeat of the euphoria of victory. (I won’t even get into the sadness of the Argentina v. Croatia game. I’m hoping for a miraculous turnaround that allows Argentina to advance and Messi to stop looking so forlorn.)

As we go into the weekend, I leave you with a few moments of Team Senegal adorableness.

This is why I ride with Senegal, indeed.

Have a relaxing weekend

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It’s been a while since I’ve checked in here. Every Friday, I mean to post a bunch of ever more belated links to tidbits of interest, but every Friday something gets in the way. This week, I break the cycle! Below, a slew of links that I’ve been stockpiling to share with you. Some of them may be rather old, but they are still quite interesting.

Have a lovely weekend and enjoy the World Cup, if you’re watching! Tomorrow at 9am I start my vigil in front of the TV with the Argentina-Iceland game, and before Tuesday at 11am I have to figure out where to view the Senegal games alongside Senegalese people (even though I watched no more than ten minutes of their soccer team while actually living there). Four years ago I was obsessed with Argentina; this year I’m rooting for Senegal first, Argentina second, and I couldn’t care less who comes in third. It’s silly, but it feels good.

Anyway, here are those links…

We have one man to blame for that annoying English grammar rule that prohibits ending sentences with prepositions.

Sample some entries in “The Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue,” a collection of 18th century working-class London slang.

The Romans would have called me a barbarian.

The obituary for a very unlikely sumo wrestling commentator.

Tales of another sufferfester (here’s the first one I posted about), this time an ocean kayaker. Fascinating to ponder why they do it, and what part of that impulse I have in me, albeit in relatively tiny amounts.

Towns to add to your France bucket list.

And Macron wants baguettes added to another kind of list. 

Terms of endearment from around the world. Some more adorable than others.

There is no cut-off age for learning a foreign language. Just do it.

“I’m not rude; I’m just French.” Hahahahahaha. Not the Onion.

The unspeakable linguistics of camp. 

A cheese-themed theme park. Be still my heart.

Speaking of cheese. “Camembert without Raw Milk? It’s Treason, Connoisseurs Cry.” I love how protective the French are of their gastronomy.

Finally, pix of beautiful Cuban cinemas. And here’s one of my favorites that wasn’t included in the article:

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belated links of interest

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I meant to post these links on Friday and never got around to it…

20 forgotten English words that would be useful today. 

A world map with countries’ names in their official languages.

New State Department travel advisories make it easier to see how they rate a country’s safety. (Note: I would take them with a grain of salt; their travel advice tends to be about as risk-averse as your average Jewish mother’s.)

The New York Times’ first “52 Places” traveler answers questions. She sounds great, and I love her answer to, “What is your greatest hope for the trip?”

Want to learn French animal sounds? Here you go.

And, an older article I don’t think I ever shared here: a heart-wrenching story of theimpending extinction of an Amazonian language and the pain felt by its last speaker.

Also late, Le Parisien’s words of the year word cloud, in the photos above and below. I found it an interesting window onto French culture. french word cloud

And really, really late (18 years to be exact), an old This American Life program I recently revisited, about Americans in Paris, featuring a hilarious-as-usual David Sedaris. I have a new appreciation for this episode since being an American in Paris myself.

Happy Monday… I will try to post an actual piece of writing this week…

back in New York Village

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Two weekends ago when I came into the city for a 24-hour visit, I went out to lunch on the Upper West Side. Within a minute of my first gulp of NYC air, I crossed paths with someone I knew. While stepping into the restaurant, a man I had had a nice conversation with nearly ten years ago walked out. He had been the executive director of a non-profit I greatly admire, and I still remember his face.

Then, last Thursday afternoon, I made my move back to the city. The following morning, I was watching the NY1 morning show and a story came on about the rapid development of Long Island City, a neighborhood in Queens. I did a double take at one of the people who was interviewed for the “man on the street” soundbites. It was Charlie, a window washer in the skyscraper where I worked for five years until 2015. He is the friendliest guy and I used to love asking him questions about his craft, which consists of dangling out of windows forty stories high to clean the glass. Funnily enough, I also spotted him one summer many years ago, on Orchard Beach in the Bronx (far, far away from both Long Island City and midtown Manhattan where our building was). He was walking around with a boombox, shirtless and glistening in the sun, and I pretended not to see him because I didn’t want to snap him out of his leisure element.

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Then, the very next day, I went to the women’s march with my high school friends. The streets were packed with people – the New York Times estimated that 200,000 people were there. My friends and I wedged ourselves into the sea of marchers and started inching our way along. After about a block, I looked directly to my right and noticed that I had been walking alongside a freelance filmmaker with whom I have worked on several video projects (for the same organization that was housed in the building where Charlie worked). We jumped in recognition and shock – what were the chances?

And what were the chances that I’d run into (slash spot on TV) three people I know over the course of my first four days in one of the world’s biggest cities? It heartened me, maybe even more than the joyous, raucous march (during which we happened to get into formation behind the Rude Mechanicals marching band, who provided an amazing soundtrack for our six miles of dance-walking). womens march 3

Perhaps I have (much) more to look forward to in New York than I give it credit for. womens march nyc 2