Rien à dire

Apologies, dear followers, but it seems that I have nothing in particular to say this week.

Rien. Nada. Niet.

‘Niet’, by the way, while Russian in origin, is frequently used in French to say ‘no way’.

But having ‘rien à dire’ (nothing to say) shall not stop this brave writer from spewing forth a few wise words. Far be it from me to allow writer’s block to deprive you of your weekly dose of — what, exactly? I used to see this blog as a way of a) avenging myself against the slings and arrows of being foreign in France, and b) explaining this great and wonderful land to the ROW (rest of world), and finally c) discovering along the way that I had become, uh, one of them.

Now I find myself struggling with my focus. France, the French people and the French language itself continue to provide a rich and seemingly bottomless source of inspiration for observations which I hope are original, informative and occasionally funny. But lately my heart is not quite in it.

Note that the expression ‘rien à dire’ is, oddly, often used as a compliment. Meaning: There is nothing to criticize here. Ah, if only. My head is filled with complaints and critiques, but I am trying not to listen to them. To focus on the positive. But I don’t want to turn this blog into a travelogue, which others do very well, or an ode to ‘la vie en rose’. Which my life in France is most decidedly not.

There are bigger topics here in France right now that I could blog about. But the ones that seem worthy of a post require more time and energy than I have to give at the moment. And the ones that inspire my muse make me feel like I’m repeating myself.

In the past, when the world made a tiny bit more sense than it does now, I would take refuge in silence. Wait until the muse moved me with words worth sharing. But in this day of social media savvy, of regular posting and fighting for screen time, I am inspired to write about the fact that I have nothing to say.

So forgive me, please. Mea culpa. Pardon my French, or lack thereof. It’s probably just a blip, a minor dysfunction of my normally wagging tongue.

I will hunker down and hibernate for a while and return soon with renewed vim and vigour.

A bientôt!

In the meantime, if you are inspired to say anything, feel free!

Photo by Brannon Naito on Unsplash

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

vib-awardThe king of hugs and one of my favorite fellow bloggers, Lord David Prosser, nominated me for this award. I have no award-free principles, so I am delighted to accept the honor.

As with many awards this one has a few “rules”. As a rule, I dislike rules and try to break them wherever possible. However, I also believe you shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth (whatever that means!). So, here goes…

First, the rules:

  • Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
  • List the rules and display the award.
  • Share seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 other blogs you enjoy, then comment on their posts to let them know that you have nominated them.

Let me begin by thanking David, who keeps us all in merriment on Sunday mornings with his weekly epistles of daily life on The Barsetshire Diaries, along with those of a rather fishy cast of characters including his pal, Mike, and Big Al, the leader of the tank. (Apologies to Mike, I couldn’t resist!)

Now, 7 fascinating facts about moi:

1) Although I live in France, I hate to travel and never bothered to learn any foreign languages before meeting my husband. Who, you guessed it, is French!

2) I eat breakfast in bed. Every. Single. Day. (Except when we’re traveling, which is probably why I hate it!)

3) We have two grown children, who shall remain nameless on this blog, and two substitute children: our Frenchies, Higgins and Humphrey. Oh, and two vile lodgers who think they own the joint: the cats, Bianca and Leo.

4) I am a professional writer. Shh! Don’t tell my clients, they pay me to do what I do for free here.

5) In another life, I used to sing.

6) Unrelated fact: I am deaf in one ear.

7) I curse like a sailor and spit like a man. In two languages!

So, now to the real business. Here are 15 blogs that I follow with pleasure and can recommend you do the same.

A Crooked Mile: Another blogger who shares sometimes mixed feelings about France.

Au Pair Gal: I am very much enjoying this new blog chronicling life as an Au Pair.

As Told by Dana: Great stories from the trenches of life in France.

A Year in Perigord: A Francophile with a very British sense of humor.

Food, Photography and France: A food photographer who can make anything look magical.

Multifarious Meanderings: A funny take on just about anything.

Osyth: A funny and inspired writer who lives in the remote region of Cantal

Suzanne and Pierre in Paris: A bilingual photo blog documenting this couple’s travels (unfortunately ending soon!)

Forty c’est Fantastique: Souvenirs of past and future trips to France.

Long View Hill: One woman’s challenges in living a balanced life.

Big Body Beautiful: An inspirational blog about finding beauty in all body sizes.

Cogito Ergo Mom: Thoughts on parenting, emphasis on the thoughts.

Colin Bissett: Travel, architecture and more from an adopted Aussie.

The Cheergerm and the Silly Yak: I enjoy reading this blog almost as much as drooling over the gluten-free recipes!

Wandering Cows: Bits and bobs from the travels of wandering Aussies.

Happy reading and bonne semaine!

En grève. On strike!

 

'One strike may conceal another!'
‘One strike may conceal another’

Note to readers: The management would like to apologize for any inconvenience as the regularly scheduled post cannot be shown this week due to a labour dispute.

This would not be a blog about life in France without a little strike action. The right to strike – faire grève – is deeply engrained in the French culture, and it is one that is regularly exercised.

As the French national rail company, SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français), or, as I’ve heard it popularly referred to: Société Nationale des Connards et de Fainéants – national company of jerks and lazy asses – now enters its second week of strike, I feel inspired to join them.

There is a certain time pressure. The period between the month of long weekends in May and the official start of the summer holiday period in July is all too short. This is prime-time strike season: a window of opportunity to make your point before heading out for some well-earned vacation.

So, I am officially on strike this week in protest against the poor pay and work conditions offered by WordPress. Since starting this blog over a year ago I have received zero remuneration and no time off. Don’t even ask about medical and retirement benefits! Sure, I’ve enjoyed it, gained a great many readers and met fellow bloggers whose work I also enjoy. On a personal level, I have learned a lot, enriched my writing and had a lot of fun. But fun is not the point.

The point is that if I don’t strike now and send a very strong message to the management, who knows where it will all end? WordPress might be taken over by foreign owners who could impose an even more draconian regime. Who can say? They may very well outsource my (unpaid) job to India.

No, I’m not a member of any union. Didn’t you know that the French are among the least unionized workers in the world? But I will defend to the death my right to strike. Negotiations you ask? Maybe. All in due time. Strike first, negotiate later, that’s the French way!

So when you come back next week (you will return of course?), I hope to be able to once again offer normal service. But I’m not making any promises.

Vive la France!

Liebster Award: And the nominees are….

liebster_award‘Liebster’ means beloved in German, so it is fitting that the award that bears this name requires you to share the love. I am hereby nominating the following blogs that enrich my life as a reader:

  • 365 things I love about France – This blogger finds so many positive things to say about our fair land, I am truly ashamed…yet written with humor and realism.
  • Life on la Lune – I enjoy reading this blog about a British writer’s life in France, which  seems strikingly similar yet very different from my own.
  • One French Word – A beautiful food blog that also make it easy to learn a lot of French culinary terms!
  • Taste of Savoie – Another delicious blog with a lot of interesting tidbits about places to go in our corner of France.
  • C’est la vie – A newcomer deals with her frustrations and family life in France.
  • Long View Hill – I love this writer’s frank approach to sharing her fitness and life challenges.
  • Scene by Minerva – Absolutely beautiful photographs of flora and still life captured through this talented photographer’s lens.
  • Aimée Cartier’s Blog – Only recently started following this blog but her voice and humor hooked me from the get go.
  • Wife After Death – This blog deals with the painful road back to life following the loss of a spouse. Her writing is so good I want to be there for every step!

Fellow bloggers, I know that not everyone will have the time or inclination to participate. Your mission, if you accept, is to follow the Liebster Award rules as outlined in my last post.

Here are your questions:

  1. Blogging takes so much time that you could be spending doing something else. Why do you choose to blog?
  2. Who are your favorite writers?
  3.  If you could have any talent, artistic or otherwise, what would it be?
  4.  Do you ever dream of moving to another country and if so, where?
  5. Where and when do you write?
  6. What is your preferred form of exercise or sport?
  7. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
  8. What household chore do you least like to do?
  9.  Picture yourself in a perfect moment of happiness: where are you and what are you doing?
  10. Let’s raise a toast to your continued to success with blogging – what are you drinking?

Santé!

Liebster Award: I’d like to thank the academy…

liebster_award…Or at least my fellow blogger, Rose Red, a wonderful writer with an amazing voice who nominated me for this great honor. And it is, indeed, an honor to be acknowledged by other writers whose work you truly admire.

To be fair, blogging awards like the Liebster are as much about PR and promoting interest in new blogs as they are about recognizing writing talent. But that’s what this whole blogging thing is about!

So I’ve decided to accept and ‘pay it forward’ as the award rules specify.

1. Each nominee must link back the person who nominated them.
2. Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator.
3. Nominate 10 other bloggers for this award who have less than 200 followers.
4. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
5. Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them.

I’ll start by answering the 10 questions provided by Rose, then do the rest in my next post.

1) When and where do you find time and space to blog?
I do most of my (non-work) writing in that magic hour early in the day, after breakfast and before getting out of bed. Yes, that means I have breakfast in bed.

2) What is the worst job you have ever had/done?
Teaching English to the French. I was an awful teacher and they were not very good students.

3) If you could try any job for a day, what would you do?
I’d love to be an actor in my favorite TV soap, EastEnders.

4) What are you reading at the moment?
Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. A brilliant memoir that may just give me the inspiration to write my own (although there’s nothing remotely as exciting about my journey).

5) Can you remember your favorite childhood book, and what was it?
Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott. Can you guess which one was my hero?

6) Do you listen to music while writing, and what do you like to listen to if so?
Absolutely not. I find it too difficult to think over music or any other background noise (except the dull roar of the train, my second-favorite place to write).

7) What, if any, is your favorite song lyric?
Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels, the dizzy dancing way you feel.” From Both Sides Now, by my fellow Canadian, musician and artist, Joni Mitchell.

8) What is your idea of the perfect holiday?
The idea of a perfect holiday. Thinking then planning is the most perfect moment of any holiday. The reality inevitably falls short.

9) What would you choose as your last meal?
Something magical that would give me eternal life. And/or French fries.

10) What are you most likely to say if you drop something heavy on your toe?
Fuck. Or possibly ‘putain.’ But no swear word in French gives as much satisfaction as the f-word.

Thank you Rose, for the giving me the chance to participate!