Sunday, August 31, 2008

Aging in Paris

I've been in Paris no since 1991 - woah, that makes 17 years! Good lord. In fact, I arrived here on August 23, 1991 - so it's almost exactly to the day. Time does fly when you're having fun, doesn't it? As I mention on my website , as a girl growing up in New Jersey and young adult struggling in California, my dream had always been to live in Paris. So I really should thank the nutso French rageholic who offered me a job in his Parisian video distribution company way back then. Even though "international sales" turned out to be typing mail orders into a computer. And even though he dumped me 3 months later. (Fortunately, I guess, I haven't had contact with him since he disappeared, and his company too, a year or two after I was dumped.) That's how I fell into teaching English which eventually transformed into international communication skills for French bosses! One of the best things about living in France that I know from personal experience is that aging does NOT automatically mean putting on pounds (excuse me - kilos)! I do know from personal experience that eating small portions is excruciating for an American used to supersized portions. Plus we Parisians have our dear Metro with enough stairs to equal a workout in Golds gym. I already talked about style in my last blog - you can see the results in the photo - taken last week - really! Oh yes - I picked up that red dress along with the "animal" pants at the used clothing store for 3 euros each. Not bad for a 59-year old lady. Living in Paris.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


One of the reasons I originally moved to France was because of French style. Yes, the French do indeed have "style" and I'm not exaggerating. I remember on one trip seeing a homeless guy in the Metro wearing a scarf that was totally elegant. I could not help thinking, "Good Lord - in Paris even the bums in the Metro have style." You see it everywhere. And so you dare to apply a bit of it to yourself. I didn't in the U.S. Didn't dare because intellectuals who wear glasses are not exactly in the number one style group. Here, they are. But what exactly is style? On my last trip to the U.S., someone asked me, "So, Jeanne. What's in style right now in Paris?" You know, I couldn't think of the answer. In fact, the French genius is simply to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. (Hey - that's me!) Of course, there are women who follow the "Style". I guess you could say that right now, according to my "scan other women in Metro" status report, that short skirts or short knit dresses worn with tights that cut off at the ankle are "in". Also structured. Also non-structured. Also bright colors. Also black and pastel colors. So, what does this mean for me? What is means is that I have to know myself and answer the question: what do I want to express about me visually? Given the fact that I don't really pay attention to "fashion", I do pay attention to what expresses me. Also, as the discount shopping maven of Paris, I into bargains. Bargains that express me. Occasionally we have a "Bingo" moment. Just had one the other day at Guerrisol, a resale store with an outlet near Barb├Ęs (17 bis Boulevard Rochechouart - mentioned in my shopping guide "Best Buys and Bargains in Paris"), I found 2 items: a pair of eccentric black and white pants and a 100% bright red cotton short dress for, are you ready, 3 Euros each. For a photo, I'm sorry, but you'll have to hold your breath until I can get a friend to take a picture. In the meantime, you'll just have to admire my Italian fluffy, ruffled and uneven hem skirt bought in the discount center for Italian clothes near Republique. This, plus jewelry and scarves sent to me by my mother she when she moved into a smaller apartment at her rest home (got a box with 84 scarves plus other items), allow me to express Me. It's an ongoing process. And that, to me, is the genius behind French style.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

She shudda lissinned.

Sorry to use North Jersey speak in the title, but, really, she shudda lissenned. "She" is Pat Russo, the soon to leave chief executive of Alcatel Lucent.

At the end of April, 2006, I heard about the upcoming merger, and I actually contacted Pat Russo because I thought to myself, "She's going to be butchered - she knows nothing about French culture." You see, I'm an intercultural trainer and coach in Paris - and I'm originally from New Jersey (South Jersey, not North Jersey). And I know how complex the culture is here - I've studied it and have lived it since 1991. And I know how different things are from the US. I love it, but (to use North Jersey speak), ya godda no wut yur duwin. In fact, I still have the return email Pat Russo sent me on May 3, 2006 suggesting that we try to arrange some time to meet. We never did, and now you know the results!

Of course, I wouldn't be totally upset by my failure to deal with French culture if I too had a 6 million euro golden parachute. But I do regret that we never met, and that I was not able to help her. At least now I'm going in the other direction at a French university called Sciences Po where I'm currently teaching a course called "French-American Intercultural Communication". For your midterm exam, please explain the influence of the Puritans on Michael Jackson's "Thriller".

P.S. I'm from South Jersey where we do not speak like Mafiosa - we prefer to speak like Cockneys.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Back on the blog

It's hard to believe that it's been almost a year since I've written a blog! What happened is that last September I started a part time (but intense and ALMOST full time) job as a business communication consultant in a large auditing firm just outside Paris. Plus I taught courses at an excellent university called "Sciences Po". In short, I was totally overloaded with work from September until mid-July. I'm just now coming back to "normal" (whatever that is) after 3 weeks of vacation (vive la France!). One thing I can tell you is that Paris is crumbling - something I've noticed since i've started wandering around again. Also, I'm now into photography. Above are two of my photos. You can see more on: