Bonjour, tout le monde! How is everyone? How’s your summer going? I’m now back in France after having been in Florida for about a month and a half, the longest I’ve ever been away from France since moving over 9 years ago. Between medical appointments, errands, and seeing family, I’ve been up and down the eastern part of the state from Port St. Lucie down to Miami. It was GREAT seeing family and feeling like I could live life somewhat normally again after a crazy year of pandemic life in France.
While in the US, it was easy to fall back into the American pace and way of doing things. For more on that, check out this blog post on things I do more in the USA than in France. While there, I also did a fun chocolate mousse video with my dad, and took a look at French products at Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s.
One of the things I always take note of when I visit my home country is what surprises me or stands out, both good and bad. I like to see how I’ve changed and what I’ve gotten used to in France, what has become my normal and what catches me by surprise. I mention more on that in the blog post linked above.
I’d love to hear from you below about the good, bad, and ugly in your life right now, so to start off, here’s my two cents:
Tom and Dagny are happy to have me back and I’m just getting my bearings again as I slip back into my France routine. It feels good to be home although it’s always hard to say goodbye. Life here has thankfully ebbed more toward normalcy in my absence — new virus cases way down, more people getting vaccinated, and no masks required outdoors in my area. And restaurants are open!
Something that’s very good is that I’m officially fully vaccinated.
While traveling, I cracked open some new books and gave my headphones quite a workout with a bunch of podcasts. Here are some highlights:
Just finished: Victim F by Aaron Quinn and Denise Huskins
Imagine being victimized in your own home and going to the police for help just to have them not believe you and accuse you of faking the whole thing at a time when you desperately need them to take action. That’s what happened to Aaron and Denise in their Vallejo, California, home after intruders in wetsuits broke in during the night and kidnapped Denise. This story is so crazy, you’d think you were reading fiction. But it’s real life.
I don’t want to give away too much, but this easy-to-read page turner will have you on the edge of your seat the whole time. I read it in one day. If you love true crime/mysteries, you’ll love Victim F.
Currently reading: Becoming by Michelle Obama
This is the former First Lady’s memoir that will take you behind the scenes of her life one chapter at a time. From her upbringing to her education to when she meets Barack and beyond, I am enjoying getting to know Michelle Obama on a deeper level and have even more respect for this extraordinary woman. Get it here.
On my “to read” list: Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
This book is on my nightstand and I’m looking forward to starting it this weekend. I’ve been a fan of Ryan’s work for years.
“While the history books are filled with tales of obsessive visionary geniuses who remade the world in their image with sheer, almost irrational force, I’ve found that history is also made by individuals who fought their egos at every turn, who eschewed the spotlight, and who put their higher goals above their desire for recognition.” —from the prologue
For fellow True Crime addicts:
Even though I have weird dreams, I can’t quit ’em! I’m trying to shift my listening habits to non-violent crime podcasts but it’s a struggle. Old habits die hard I guess.
Here are some of my favorite listens as of late:
-Season 2 of To Live and Die in LA investigates the case of Elaine Park, a 20-year-old California woman who went missing in Malibu in 2017. There are a lot of twists and turns, and while host Neil Strauss’ journalistic integrity was pretty questionable in Season 1, I will say he knows how to make a compelling podcast.
–The Lady Vanishes: An Australian podcast that spans several season about a woman named Marion Barter who went missing years ago and her daughter’s quest to find her mom.
–A Death in Cryptoland: Gerald Cotten, the CEO of Canada’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, reportedly died in India, but the circumstances leading up to his supposed death were bizarre. From his secret past to some shady dealings, and a whole lot of angry investors, it definitely plants the seed of doubt as to whether or not Cotten is really dead.
–Missing on 9/11: Just a block from the World Trade Center on Sept. 10, 2001, security cameras at a department store capture the last known images of Dr. Sneha Anne Philip. Then 9/11 happens and the world is forever changed. But what happened to Sneha and is she alive? This podcast tries to get to the truth.
–FRENCH PICK: Les Voix du Crime: This French podcast put out by RTL follows different criminal cases and you’ll hear from lawyers, investigators and all those involved to give you the “voices of the crime.” This one is great for increasing your French vocabulary.
France travel eGuide: While in the US, I was so excited to launch a PDF eGuide titled “75 Beginner France Travel Tips for a Standout Trip.”
The guide is geared toward newbies, so it’s not for seasoned travelers but for beginner travelers who want to be prepared before they go. If you’d like a bunch of tips to help make your trip to France even better — ranging from general tips, to pharmacy to money to dining out — this guide is for you. It’s easy to read, broken down by category, and is about 40 pages. Special pricing at just a few bucks! GET IT HERE.
P.S. If you’ve purchased my guide and wouldn’t mind sending me a testimonial I can use for my marketing, please email me. A paragraph explaining what you found the most helpful/valuable/cool/interesting would majorly help me out. Email me at ouiinfrance at gmail dot com. MERCI!
Travel can be stressful. Between tight connections and delayed flights, a day of travel certainly keeps you on your toes. But the worst is when you desperately need to sleep but can’t. On my way to the US, the flight spoiled me because it was maybe 20% full and I had an entire row to myself. That was not the case upon returning to France. My return flight was 100% full. Bad.
Fun detail that was actually good: I was seated next to a 6-year-old boy (whose family actually delayed the plane due to arriving super late) on my flight into CDG, which normally wouldn’t be an issue, but his parents were seated at the front of the plane!
The little guy next to me in the middle seat needed help navigating the touchscreen, cutting his food, and basically getting through an 8-hour flight. The guy on the other side of him couldn’t care less. I was so surprised his family didn’t put one of the older kids back by me instead or at least give him some kid things to entertain himself. He was part of a big family traveling together and the dad barely checked on him the whole time. I felt responsible for making sure he had his seatbelt on and was OK. He was a sweet little boy, but man, I was really looking forward to getting some sleep.
Speaking of stress, I’m feeling it pretty badly at the moment. It’s a part of life we all experience but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with in the moment. From family health issues that brought me to the US unexpectedly in the first place to my own allergy fiasco to a YouTube project that’s been postponed last minute to everything else, just ugh. I wish I could take a mental time out from life sometimes.
I mentioned above that I like seeing what surprises me, both good and bad, and one of the things that caught me the most off-guard in an ugly way was a pickup truck I spotted while in a Florida Winn-Dixie parking lot.
It whizzed past sporting two Confederate flags on the back just waving in the breeze for all to see.
I’m not sure they realize or care what they’re communicating to people. Or maybe they do realize and that’s why it was so upsetting to see. It’s 2021 and after what we’ve all collectively experienced, isn’t it time that society does better? If you’d like some context re: the Confederate flag, read this for more info on why it’s a symbol of hate.
As GloGraphics recently posted on Instagram, “…you can love a country and still want to hold it to a higher standard.” That goes both ways, for the country you used to call home and the one you now call home. (Her carousel posts are always amazing, so if you don’t follow Glo, get on that!)
Also in the ugly category is the worst allergic reaction I’ve had in my life. I have a food allergy that’s gotten progressively worse over the years and during the last week of my trip, I landed myself in urgent care. The right side of my face broke out in weeping eczema (normal food allergy reaction for me), and while ugly, painful, and slow to heal, the regular reaction is not an emergency.
But this time was different when my eye was nearly swollen shut. Long story short, I got the most amazing shot in the butt that worked very quickly, thank goodness.
I luckily had emergency medical travel insurance and once (if?) I get reimbursed for my rendez-vous at urgent care, I plan to write a post about travel insurance and how that all worked out. I’ll save the lovely picture of my face for that post.
Heads up that there won’t be a new YouTube video this coming week because my face is, well, a problem at the moment.
OK, that’s all from me… how are YOU?