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?
Was this family with the 6 year old boy, American? I remember being on a flight to Tel Aviv from the states and there were two parents sitting in the front and 2 younger children were sitting in the back. I was wondering if this was a cultural thing that Americans are more protective of their children? Glad to see you have travel insurance. Healthcare here is such a nightmare.
Hi Mike, I believe he lives in the US but his family is not of American origin.
Occasionally I read true crime but these sound riveting. I’ll check them out. Like many, during the pandemic I turned more and more to Audible. It was difficult staying focused on reading and I’m a reader. Yes Michelle’s book is so good. Glad to hear you’re home safe, your face is healing and hope your family health issues are not worrisome. As for the truck, I fear they know the meaning.
Thank you Pam! I appreciate that but unfortunately the family health issues are very worrisome. I just couldn’t stay longer than a month and a half given my commitments in France. Just taking it one day at a time. 🙂 Thank you for reading and hope you’re well!
Leigh Rys says
Diane — I’m glad you made it back to France safely. I hope the “good” will outweigh the stresses in the coming days. Something that you might want to add to your reading list that will help with the “ugly” is a short book entitled “Courage,” by Tom Berlin (https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Courage+tom+berlin&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss). I don’t know where you are on your faith journey, but the book offers some incredibly good insights in terms of how to deal with the ugliness/challenges of the world. Berlin is a United Methodist pastor in northern Virginia and a graduate of Chandler School at Emory University. The quick summation is that “love wins,” despite the problems of the world. All the best to you as you work through your challenges in the days ahead.
Thank you, Leigh, I appreciate the book suggestion!!
Diane, it’s so hard to be far away when loved ones are getting old or sick. It won’t get easier and you’re right, take it one step at a time… Bon courage.
I haven’t been home for 4 years now and love to watch your videos, see your pictures, enjoy reading your blogs. Thank you for keeping it up!
Re. the ugly… the divise in the US and elsewhere is so bad. On the I95, somewhere in Virginia there is this huge confederate flag. I saw other ones in West Virginia too.
Is it too late to turn the fears into wisdom? Too many powerful people use their position for propaganda, helping them to keep their status. Broken system. I don’t know what should happen to make it change.
Thank you Catherine, I appreciate your kind words. So happy you enjoy my content.
I don’t think it’s ever too late to change but I don’t know how to get it done on such a large scale. The flag really surprised me. I guess I just wanted to believe we were all doing better. Scary.
Julia Gray says
I am not surprised that you saw a truck carrying two Confederate flags. They have become more and more prominent as a result, I believe, of the policies and communication of our former president (such as following the protests in Charlottesville, when he said something on the order of “There are good. people on both sides”) and the Capitol rioters brandishing the Stars and Bars. It is very unfortunate that these people feel empowered to display their hatred. I see these flags often in my city in eastern North Carolina.
Such a sad sight!
“Something that’s very good is that I’m officially fully vaccinated” …and proud of it? Do you know what you did put in your body? I cannot believe such an seemingly articulate woman like you fell for such propagande et folie. Well, you will know in a few months or couple of years when your body will get overwhelmed by spike proteins and cytokine storms . By the way, I am a retired physician. Please get me out of your mailing list. I do not associate myself with ignoramus and critical thinking impaired people. Merci.
Hi Fran, I respect your opinion to not get vaccinated. You’re free to do what you like with your body. I’m not going to insult you because your choices are different than mine. That’s not kind. Given my personal situation, getting vaccinated was the best choice so I think it’s best to not judge people. We’re all doing the best we can.
I wish you the best and if you no longer find my blog relevant to your life just because I chose to get vaccinated, that’s completely your prerogative. Be well! Sending you love.
Chris Obonsawin says
Good for you for vaccinating. It’s is the personal and socially responsible thing to do, and the only way we as a society can get back to some resemblance of the before times. I am looking forward to traveling again starting next spring, including to your part of France.
As a scientist I get angered, frustrated and saddened by the seemingly overwhelming satisfaction anti science/anti vaxxers have with their own ignorance and the desire so many of them have to attack, shame and harass others who make choices they don’t agree with.
Regarding the 6 year old. I can’t imagine my wife and I sitting together in one part of the plane while our children were in another part. (Unless it was my daughter when she was a teenager – she’s a wonderful adult but those few years between 15 and 19….mince!)
Thanks for La Voix du crime. I’m always looking for good podcasts in French. I highly recommend France Culture. They have amazing podcasts on all sorts of topics.
Et bravo pour la vaccination ! Rien d’autre à dire là-dessus. Vous avez bien fait !
Denise Cuthbertson says
You are so classy… I LOVE it!
Monica Malone says
Thank you for being so kind to that little guy. I have been in that position, when the airline separated my five year old, because while our boarding passes had three together, they over promised/sold the window seats. The woman rudely announced to all that a window seat was a waste on a child, which made my little guy feel bad. (The woman, then shut the shade immediately after takeoff and slept for most of the trans-Atlantic flight.) Five year old sat with a lovely couple a across the aisle, but a couple rows behind. I could see him and he could see me, but with a two year old, it was a struggle to cut his food, etc. They were so lovely. I have been fortunate enough to have paid their kindness forward … twice! Showing once again, good and bad is about perspective. Bad, sleepless, flight for you … but some little guy made a new, helpful, funny, and kind friend when he really needed one. That’s good. Also it’s a reaffirmation that, despite the ugly, there are good people (kindred spirits) everywhere as we make change and there is still much reason to hope! Good! Glad you are home safely, albeit a bit weary. Be kind to yourself as you recuperate from your journey! Best wishes to you and yours!
I would like to buy your eguide. I do not have PayPal. Is there another option?
Hi Laurie, thank you for your interest. Yes you can also pay via stripe which works with any type of credit card. The option should be there at check out. Send me a quick email if you have any issues. Thank you again 🙂
Aussie Jo says
You are so caring and amazing
Thank you for the podcast recommendations, looks like we’re into the same stuff (and maybe share an addiction to “missing” cases!
Ugh for the bad and ugly. I just flew to Canada to pick up Mark (finally! Canada let me in without hotel quarantine!) and the plane was 100% full with a few passengers with questionable flight etiquette.