Vocab Friday: Creepy Crawly Edition

I really, really wish this was an April Fool’s Day post. But it’s not.

It’s the sad, horrifying truth that I arrived home from home, well rested and excited to see Husband, only to find out from my dear sister that I may or may not have brought back some little souvenirs, compliments of a certain niece who’s name rhymes with banana.

That’s right: my sister called about 8 hours after my plane landed to say she was sitting in the waiting room of a professional nitpicker, and that I should have Husband check me out for lice just in case.

And despite feeling immediately itchy and paranoid, I kind of laughed it off. That is until Husband took one look at the back of my head and pulled a bug out.

PULLED A BUG. OUT OF MY HAIR. Do you know what’s WORSE than the horror of toenail clippings on the floor people??? Your husband pulling BUGS OUT OF YOUR HAIR like an ape.

Now we have no idea if it was an actual louse or just a gnat or even a piece of lint. But I didn’t wait to find out. I immediately started high-pitch screaming and ripped all of my clothes off and jumped in the shower, where I compulsively washed and scrubbed and scoured my head for about 45 minutes while sobbing uncontrollably. I then made Husband douse my head in vinegar, because I read that that might help, but it only went up my nose and seared my eyeballs.

That’s about when he emailed my sis to say “I have a hysterical pregnant lady in the shower who smells like a bad salad. Help?”

But there was no help to be found. Husband refused to share a bed with me. I stayed up all night googling “lice removal.” So the next day I went to the pharmacist and got a special anti-poux comb and shampoo, which was not really shampoo at all but some kind of non-chemical, silicone smothering agent that was the approximate consistency of motor oil. And I put that on my head, even though we couldn’t find any further evidence of lice. And I scraped my poor scalp to death with the comb, just to make sure there was no chance in hell that any living creatures could have survived.

And that, my dear readers, is why I have not been updating the blog this week. Because I’ve been running around picking at my hair like a cracked out meth addict.

In other news, I can’t wait for my next trip home!

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And that brings us to this week’s vocabulary lesson: the creepy crawly edition.

les poux

Pronunciation: poo (so yes, that shampoo is probably pronounced “poo-it”)

Definition: Lice. Plural of “louse.” Horror of horrors. As in,

“If my child ever comes home with les poux, I will probably just abandon her on the side of the road.”



Time to go back.

It’s my last weekend back home, and while I love love love being here with my fam and friends, I think it’s about time for me to be returning to the land of pain au raisins. For one, I really miss those pain au raisins. I also think Husband can only survive on cereal alone for so long. But mostly, I’m tired of having run-ins with the law. At this juncture I’ve received 2 parking tickets and an untold number of photo enforced speeding tickets. I’ve been pulled over once for disobeying a do not enter sign. And I’ve witnessed 2 car accidents.  Drivers of the DC-MD-VA metropolitan area will most likely all sigh a breath of relief when my plane takes off.  And I’ll feel so much safer when I’m back in Paris walking everywhere, with only the scourge of tiny pickpockets to deter my wanderings!

Also, I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled blogging next week. Get ready for the 100th post, it’s gonna be a doozy!


Paris ain’t got nothin on this.

OK people of France, we can all agree on your many superior aspects: You have foie gras and the Musee D’Orsay, chateaux and miles of pristine vineyards. You’ve got croissants and pain au raisins. You’ve got a clear champagne monopoly. You’ve got Paris, with perfectly charming little ramshackle streets and gloriously grand boulevards alike. You’ve got the cafe scene covered. All of your female inhabitants are skinny and smell nice. The views are rarely ugly and even your endlessly oppressive gray skies are fabulous in some indescribable way.

But you know what you don’t got?

Turkey. Corn pudding. Stuffing. Sweet potatoes. And pumpkin pie. For breakfast.

Oh, and my family and friends.

So there.

Dreams of home.

In t-minus 2 days I will be home. Did you hear that? In two days! I’ll be home! Well, not in my home home, because that’s rented out. And not in my dad’s home, because I haven’t lived there since 2000 during the Summer of Hell, which was a black period in my life not fit for print descriptions (love you more dad!). But I will be back in my sister’s house, with my own room and 3 nieces and 1 nephew just down the hall. I plan on waking up at the crack of dawn and bursting into their bedrooms shouting WAKE UP! WAKE UP! IT’S TIME TO PLAY! because that’s what they did to me when I lived with them in college. After the Summer of Hell which shall not be mentioned again.

In these last few hours of Parisian grayness, when I’m not busy scheming ways to pester my family members, I am spending a good deal of time dreaming about what I am going to eat. I’m not even talking about Thanksgiving food here. I just want a toasted bagel people. A toasted bagel with cream cheese. Or a toasted bagel with egg and cheese. Ohhhhhh egg and cheese breakfast sandwich, have I missed you so! Your absence on the international morning scene is heartbreaking.

Or how about pizza? Pizza that doesn’t have goat cheese or salmon on it? That would be marvelous. I am also sleep-salivating over spicy Mexican food – fajitas, guacamole, salsa that’s not from a jar that says Tostitos. A big, gooey, heart-attack inducing plate of nachos. Oh god yes. That’s what I need.

I also have a very bizarre craving for Chinese food. Authentic Bethesda-style Chinese food that probably tastes nothing like real food from China. Yes. Ummm-hmmmm. Gimme somma that.

And since it will be Thanksgiving, I’m going to go ahead and allow room for turkey sandwiches. With pickles and plain old yellow mustard that doesn’t burn out your sinuses after one bite. Also pumpkin pie. Loads and loads of pumpkin pie.

I know it sounds sad. Here I am, living in the food capital of the world. French cuisine actually just got classified as a UNESCO Intangible World Heritage, and all I want is a good old American cornucopia of crap. I should be ashamed.

But I swear to jesus in velvet pants, if someone takes me to Whole Foods I will cry tears of joy.

Vocab Friday: Une Dinde

I know what you’re thinking: I’ve skipped ahead to Thanksgiving and totally missed the upcoming Halloween festivities! What the hell?!

Well, they don’t celebrate Halloween here in France, so I really don’t have anything to report on that front. In fact I’m going to Bordeaux for the holiday, and I plan on dressing up as an inebriated American who likes to speak bad french. Should be pretty easy!

But wait uh minute, the French don’t celebrate Thanksgiving either!

That is correct astute readers! Although you’d be really surprised at how many people ask about T-Day celebrations here. They’re the same people that ask me if my twin brother and I are identical (um, we’re not).

The point is, this here is my blog, and I want to take a minute to talk turkey. You see, I’ve been reading this book about factory farming practices and it’s totally rocking my world. In it, Jonathan Safran Foer makes an exceptionally rational, well researched case for the urgent need to totally change the way we think about, buy, slaughter and consume meat. Which believe me, is a tough thing to follow when you dream nightly about the best steak you ever had. But his words make sense. The factory farming business in America is mostly abhorrent and is in dire need of an overhaul.

Also I’m a tree hugging dirty hippie at heart, but shhhhhh, don’t tell.

Anyway, upon reading about the franken-turkeys that are pretty much the only birds available at the store (yep, even most of your organic, free range, slept in a bed of golden hay and received daily waddle massage turkeys are the same breed as a standard Butterball), I became inspired to find a heritage breed turkey.

And being the big nerd that I am, I proceeded to go into deep research mode, reading countless pages about historic breeds and wild turkey provenance. I spent an entire afternoon trolling through the Maryland Turkey Farmer’s listings and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy site. So when I finally settled on a small place raising Standard Bronzes, I dashed off my email order with the zeal of a woman who was smugly sure she was about to get her hands on the ultimate Thanksgiving Master Bite.

I was quite pleased with myself. I even challenged my sister to a turkey taste-off, to see if this heritage breed stuff was really worth it. But the next day, a troubling email from the farmer informed me that my search for real turkey had hit a brick wall. Literally:

I have no heritage birds this year. Fireworks from the Antietam Battlefield scared them so bad they flew into netting and sides of pen killing themselves.



Oh my. How does one respond to something like that? Please give my regards to the families of the birds in question? I was at a loss for words. So I settled on:

I’m so sorry for your loss. Better luck next year!

And then I found a butcher selling Kentucky Bourbons in Fredricksburg. They seem like less hysterical birds anyway. Plus, I like anything to do with bourbon. So barring any unforeseen turkey tragedies, we’ll be having one helluva heritage Thanksgiving dinner. I hope to hell it tastes good!

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une dinde

Pronunciation: oon dahnde (but real nasaly)

Definition: Turkey. Turkey Lurkey. Gobbler. Hokie even. As in,

“Perhaps next year we’ll make sure our heritage dindes have ear plugs for the 4th of July festivities.”

Please forgive me.

I have a deep, dark, dirty secret to share with you. Well, it’s not really very secret, since approximately half of my readership was involved. But that makes me no less ashamed to type what I am about to type:

I fed my family Pizza Hut. In Paris. ON PURPOSE. And it was good.

Go ahead, commence with the collective gasps. Here you thought I had come so far in my hostessing abilities. That I was someone who was truly committed to exceptional eating. But it turns out that deep down I am just a chain pizza serving, deep dish loving, red blooded American with a weakness for processed cheese.

I am not proud of this. But in my defense, we were all fresh from one hellish, strike-induced train ride from Normandy, where people were forced to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the isles for 3 hours and old ladies were fighting over seats like rabid dogs.

It was also a cold, damp Sunday night, which means just about NOTHING was open for dinner and no one felt like traveling far to find sustenance. This limited our choices to pseudo-Chinese food delivery, a 4 day old camembert in the fridge that smelled like rotting feet, or the aforementioned pie.

The troops voted unanimously for pizza. And though every bone in my body wanted desperately to feed them something, anything else, I didn’t have the heart to tell them no. But I did make sure everyone drank a glass of champagne while we waited.

And you know what? When the boxes arrived, and we all tucked into one gooey slice after another (scraping past the goat cheese of course, which is standard issue even on “plain” pizzas) – I couldn’t help but enjoy myself. It was good. Delicious even. A glorious taste of home! Husband and I looked at each other like why have we not been ordering this once a week?! Even though I haven’t eaten Pizza Hut back home in, oh, 10 years.

It’s amazing what nostalgia can do to your taste buds. But promise me this: If I ever write here praising the merits of Easy-Mac or chicken nuggets, stage an intervention.


Vocab Friday: At top volume.

I’ve been really homesick lately.

There. I said it. I’m in Paris, watching fireworks over the Tour Eiffel, galavanting on the Cote D’Azur, and all I really want is to be home in the sweltering mid-atlantic of the good old U.S. of A.

I feel guilty just typing those words. But it’s true! I’m missing all the good stuff: Snopocolypses, Top Chef DC, earthquakes — what’s next?Unicorns prancing down Pennsylvania Avenue? It would be just my luck. It’s like being out of the office and coming back to find out everyone got a raise AND a pony while you were gone.

I try to keep in touch with people back home as much as possible, which instantly raises my spirits. But that high usually devolves quickly into a bad case of the I Wannas. My sis and bro are going to the pool? I wanna go to the pool! Dad’s going to a crab feast? I wanna go to a crab feast! Best friend is wrestling her 2 toddlers at the grocery store? I wanna…Wait. Nope. I no wanna. But you get my drift.

It’s a downward spiral of inconsolable (and irrational) despair that tries to suck the life out of anything around. My only hope is to devise a distraction. Sometimes I go for a run. Sometimes I make cookie dough for immediate consumption. Sometimes I just watch Glee for 3 hours straight. But usually I just gotta sing it out.

I’m not a shower singer. I like to fulfill my wildest musical theater dreams in the car, in the summer, with all the windows rolled down. You know, so people can hear me. But since I’ve only got a bike here, I’ve moved my performances to the kitchen. I crank up the iPod speaker just loud enough to make my voice blend in with Aretha’s, and commence with making dinner.

I was doing just that the other evening, waiting for Husband to get home from a late night at work. A particularly good run of shuffled tunes came up as I was washing dishes, so I proceeded to belt it out like it was my last chance on American Idol, my hot lyrics wafting through the open window and bouncing around the inner courtyard.




I was preparing for the final chorus of that winning number when I finally shut off the running water and heard the doorbell ringing. Hmm. Maybe it was Lady Gaga coming to sign me as a backup singer? I do like costumes.

I peeked out the window to the front door below. Husband was standing there shaking his head. Seems he forgot his keys and had been knocking on the apartment door for 10 minutes before he gave up and tried the front buzzer for another 10 minutes. All the while listening to me bellow out the window.

I buzzed him in. We laughed until our sides hurt. And at that moment I couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.

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Alright enough of the sappy crap. Time for vocab! Today’s phrase is:

Elle chante comme une casserole.

Pronunciation: El shant com oon casserole

Definition: Literally, “She sings like a casserole.”

Which is what you’d say when someone’s singing voice makes your ears bleed. Which is odd, because just last night my lasagna did a charming rendition of The Rose. Oh well.

As in:

“Sweet geezus am I the only one who thinks Mary J Blige chante comme une casserole?!”