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Being French

reasons-to-like-france-graphElo, me naam eez CT, ande 2 monts agoe I beecame French. Well 50% French in the eyes of the law and sub-French in the eyes of every 100% French person, but that sort of ruins the announcement, don’t you think?

Finally, 17 years after being born on French soil to American parents, I was awarded a brilliant piece of paper stating that I now had french citizenship. The whole ceremony took place in a dingy office on the 2nd floor of a dusty creaking building that specializes in transforming peoples’ lives, and was officiated by a weary looking middle-aged woman who looked like she could really use a trip to, well, anywhere. After verifying that I wasn’t a llama posing as a human just to benefit from french health care, she offered me a three page list of first names and asked me to pick one. Despite my longtime fantasy of being named Gertrude Cunégonde, I decided to stick to CT after my father shot me a threatening look, which he only barely pulled off, since I could tell he was about to lose a hard fought battle to hysterical laughter. The lady glared at us, pursed her lips when I told her I was keeping my American citizenship, shook our hands and wished us good day, wrapping up the event in the pomp with which it had been conducted (yes young pineapples, that is sarcasm). And voilà, French I am.

As a French person, I have learned several things essential to surviving in the society of baguettes and berets, which I thought I should share with you here, as I am a kind and generous soul:

#1: Never, ever let on that you are any part American
Apart from the rare Frenchman who appreciates his neighbors from across the pond for having supplied his people with Star Wars and liberation from the Nazis, the French hold Americans to the very lowest of standards. We see the United States as perverting our culture of fine cuisine with such abominations as pre-made frosting (I mean seriously, who can’t make the effort of beating up half a ton of butter and confectioner sugar themselves) and yellow cheese (oh the woe of a people not able to enjoy a cheese made from real bacteria and mold). Not to mention the endless stream of loud and obnoxious tourists who get drunk everyday and end up keeping the whole neighborhood awake at 4am with a slurred version of the Star Spangled Banner that sounds more like a tyrannosaurus rex wailing because its arms aren’t long enough to reach the steak that’s on the top shelf of the refridgerator than any kind of musical ditty. So when in doubt, if the conversation at a wine-tasting soirée turns to the land of guns and bacon, just whole-heartedly agree that every American should be tossed into the Seine River immediately upon arrival, for fear of ending up there yourself.

#2: Act superior
If they hold Americans to the very lowest of standards, the French hold themselves to the very highest. As an ancient civilization with a proud history of invading and being invaded, it is necessary to maintain dominance on the rest of the word, a task which falls to every commoner as his or her civil duty. The code of conduct is as follows. When walking down the street, stride briskly and keep your face completely neutral. When spoken to assume a slightly annoyed look and adjust your voice so as to have a condescending echo (nothing obvious enough to allow for a formal rebuke of course). Finally, be sure to always having something French on you, such as a baguette or a book by a great French novelist (to be handheld in plain view). This will inspire awe from foreigners, who will return home and spread the stereotypes that allow for an international French reverence, and notify other Frenchman that you entertain the same noble quest as they, and thus deserve to be treated with respect.

#3: Be patriotic
This goes hand in hand with reason number 2, but is absolutely primordial: you must be willing to fight for your country, lie for your country, sow, reap and die for your country (I think I should change my career path to motivational poet. Thoughts? Actually, it’s probably better if you don’t say anything at all, I see you sneering from a million miles away). If you are caught doing something dishonorable, say you’re from England, those bastards have tried invading us enough times to deserve a little retribution. Of course if you’re being filmed by a television crew for having saved 15 people from a burning building, no matter if you look like raccoon whose wife is dragging him to marriage counseling sessions that cost way too much for the meager salary you make as a trashcan spotter, make sure to yell that you’re French. It’s very important to the social well-being of the country that we be recognized as underdog heroes. Keeps us modest and bashful.

Now I realize that I’ve been rather unkind to the French in this post, and before any of my fellow compatriots descend upon me in a flurry of rage and cigarette smoke, I’d like to share the words I wrote in my letter to the mayor: “J’espère amener honneur à vous et aux institutions de ce pays dont je suis si fière d’être devenue la citoyenne”, which translates roughly to “I promise to try and not disgrace myself any more than I already have… but dawg I’m French now, and there ain’t nobody who can touch me” (very roughly).

Liberté, égalité, fraternité to all my French homies out there. I’m going to stop writing now, before I get any more ghetto.

Live long and prosper \V/
Yours sincerely,
The Mostly Confused Teenager.

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Sea Pancakes and Toilets: Imaginary Friends

Yes, I had several. Now to all of you who are silently saying “Imaginary friends? Is she nuts?” I answer: 1) Yes, I am crazy. And quite proud. And 2) Come on, you know you had at least one too. From what I’ve gathered, having an imaginary friend is sort of a right of passage when you’re a kid. Some people may think that having friends who don’t physically exist is pathetic, and to them I say “BOY HAVE YOU EVER MISSED OUT ON SOMETHING GREAT”.

It’s not that I’m a social recluse and never had any friends. So sometimes I prefer staying home on a Friday night with a good book and a hot chocolate; that doesn’t mean that the only reason that I had imaginary friends was because I felt lonely (and let’s not even talk about Monday nights, when I am unreachable due to the amazing sport of football).

I got my first imaginary friend when I was pretty little, no more than 8 years old. I was reading Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials (you know, The Golden Compass and all that) and was fascinated by the concept of a dæmon, a creature that was essentially part of the person and from whom they could not separate from without great pain. So I decided that if Lyra and Will had dæmons and were the best heroes ever, logically if I had a dæmon I would be an amazing person as well. HA. I named my dæmon Manta. Why? Well… Because at the time I had an obsession with manta rays, or as I called them; sea pancakes. The fact that mint ice cream is my favourite flavor of ice cream also contributed to the name. I was young and innocent, don’t judge. At least, don’t judge harshly. Manta was there when I needed to babble to someone and I didn’t have The Mostly Confused Teenager to ramble on, when I was waiting all by myself for my always-late mom in the rain after school, when I wanted to make fun of my brother but no one was around. Plus, if someone asked me why I was talking to myself, I could always answer that I was actually talking to my imaginary friend, before staring at them with a mixture of befuddlement and disdain.

My second imaginary friend is one that is slightly/waaaay weirder than Manta ever was. His name is Fish, and he’s been my friend for so long that I can’t even remember when I started talking to him. This is awfully embarrassing to write, so I’m glad that not many people that I know read CT’s long winded blog posts. Still I hope that they don’t stop interacting with me because I’m such an absolute weirdosomething. See, I can only talk to Fish when.. um.. a toilet paper roll is finished. A roll with no more paper on it is the telephone that I use to contact him, at which point our conversations go something like this: “Hey Fish! How are you doing? I’m fine Fish, yeah. Ok so seeya Fish.” Now that I think about it these conversations are actually monologues. *sigh*

Still, my imaginary friends never socially hurt me (until now, I hope that this confession doesn’t The MCT’s death warrant). In fact they were a formative part of my childhood and made me into the person I am today. Whether that is a good thing or not I can’t tell 😉 Nonetheless they fostered a singular creative ability and view of the world for which I am eternally grateful. I’ve grown up a lot since the times when I heatedly debated with Manta on my brother’s level of silliness, but I haven’t forgotten the friends who helped me through some odd as sh*t days.

So parents, stop worrying because your kid has an imaginary friend, and kids, be proud! You’ll understand how a thought and/or dream can seem so real that it turns into something that you’ll cherish for the rest of your lives. Ladies and gentlemen, that is all. Peace out.

Live long and prosper \V/

Yours sincerely,

The Mostly Confused Teenager.

It’s Still Summer

Dear Autumn, back the hell off. I’ve known people like you who might be nice in some aspects of their personality but who are just too pushy. I will remind you that summer is until the 21st of September, so until then I will agree with none of this cold windy rainy nonsense that you’re imposing on the good people of EVERYWHERE.

I was walking on the street today and a leaf fell on my nose. How about no? First of all, I don’t like things falling on my nose, it makes me sneeze, and I happen to know that when I sneeze I sound like a dying zebra. Secondly, it’s still summer!!

Now I know there’s a certain rivalry in between summer and you and I also know that you feel slighted because people prefer the former to you, BUT MAYBE IF YOU STOPPED BEING SO DAMNED IN OUR FACES WE WOULD LIKE YOU MORE! Personally I love the sharp wind and the start of the holiday season, but for Cookie’s sake, it’s still a month and a half until Halloween! Please, I’m begging you, let us enjoy the last moments of our dying summertime hopes as they are swallowed by school and work *shakes head sadly*.

And Heat-Miser, Snow-Miser; if you keep fighting over who controls France, I’m going to go over your heads and go straight to your Mother. You wouldn’t like that would you? [childhood Christmas reference :’)]

Live long and prosper \V/

Yours sincerely,

The Mostly Confused Teenager

Parents Dialogue #2: Disco

[Discussing the fine art of Disco Music] Dad: Really, if you want to make a disco beat just say ‘chunk ‘o chicken’ over and over again in a cool whispery voice. Chunk ‘o chicken Chunk ‘o chicken Chunk ‘o chicken Chunk ‘o chicken… See?

CT: *stares blankly at him before trying it* Chunk ‘o chicken Chunk ‘o chicken Chunk ‘o chicken Chunk ‘o chicken.

Dad: No no no! You’re doing it all wrong! Frankly, it’s like pearls before swine here.

Mom: Oink.

 

Later I went to listen to a disco song and to my astonishment  recognized the Chunk ‘o chicken right away. Who’d have guessed? Not this girl, that’s for sure…

 

Live long and prosper \V/

Yours sincerely,

The Mostly Confused Teenager.

Parents Dialogue #1

Mom: So I had this weird dream last night…

Dad, keeping eyes focused on book: Hmm…

Mom: I was walking down the street and where there’s normally that big pothole there was a giant sparkling emerald lake with icy silver polar bears diving into it.

Dad, perks up and glances at her: Were there by any chance purple flamingos present as well?

Mom, surprised: Yes, yes there were!

Dad: I love you..

Mom: I love you too.

CT: ?!

 

Live long and prosper \V/

Yours sincerely,

The Mostly Confused Teenager.

Time Is Running Out

Well, not really. I mean time can’t actually run anywhere, nor can it suddenly die from a cookie overdose (sh*t happens), but you get the point. At the start of a new school year, I realized that I’m a junior, which means that at the current moment in time, I have less than two years before I go off to University and leave my home forever. And frankly, the thought of moving on with my life scares me a whole lot.

When I was a little girl, I had no concept of time. Some people, namely my mother, would argue that I still don’t, but it has come to my attention how much my appreciation of the timey-wimey wibbly-wobbly stuff has changed (DOCTOR WHO REFERENCE). At the age of six or seven I had no fixed timetable, no calendar to look at and remind myself that I had an orthodontist appointment the day before which I missed (Oops, oh well. *doesn’t care*). School was school, and it went on until my mom told me it was time for vacation and that I’d only come back in two weeks. I never knew that my last day of 1st grade was the last day, I only knew when I didn’t have to get up too early for my organism to handle the next day. Summer vacation was eternity, each day stretching out with limitless possibility, succeeding the last with equal importance. My mother’s birthday (the 22nd of August) which now seems abominably close to the end was just a random event in the long fabric of vacation. One day, it was time to go back to the world of books and number two pencils, and that transition was made without question. I was not in control.

As I got older, time started speeding up. I knew when school started and when it ended. When vacations came around I always looked forward to the first day of lying around in bed in a cocoon of warmth and coziness with glee, wishing the end would never arrive. During the summer I kept a conscious eye on the date at all times, measuring out the time I had left. Heck, I probably spend more time worrying about what things will be like when something ends than enjoying it while it happens.

Even though they have been filled with quite interminable math and latin classes, the last two years have flown by. On the first day of school you think; “Oh man this year is going to be soooo long, I don’t know how I’ll ever survive the boredom of lessons everyday. Better warn my unicorn to be ready each afternoon so that I can at least ride home in style”. And then, BAM, before you know it, you’re laughing and crying on the last day, swearing eternal friendship and wishing fervently that you were still the awkward new kid (although let’s face it, you still are and will always be, the awkward new kid).

This teenager has one terrifying question on her mind at the moment: if time has sped up so much in the past few years, where will things be at in, say, ten? Will a month then be equal to a day now? Does time keep speeding up until you’re whizzing around at the speed of a deranged giraffe? I’ll admit, I’m scared of what will happen. I guess that it’s important for me to remember that change can be good and that holding onto the past is not always the right path of action to take. Whatever metaphorical deer rush into my headlights, I’ll make sure that they’re all right in the end.

Live long and prosper \V/

Yours sincerely,

The Mostly Confused Teenager.

Paris by Night

Paris. A legendary city, in more ways than one. I assume that if you’re in a couple, walking through the “City of Love” at night under the twinkling streetlights on the small cobblestone alleys may seem very romantic, but since I am forever alone, I can calmly say 1) keep your mushy feelings to yourself, they make me quite jealous and 2) it’s a lot scarier when you’re all by yourself and those twinkling streetlights look like they’re winking creepily at you.

When I was little I was, like most kids, afraid of the dark. Thinking back this may have been due to the excessive amount of Calvin and Hobbes that I read before bed, where the whole “monsters under the bed” thing scared the sh*t out of me. As I grew up in Normandy I slowly conquered my fear of the black void that filled the room when my mom turned out the lights. I started being able to go outside all by myself and soon discovered the magnificence of Normandy/the countryside at night, the stars shining down on me reassuringly, the dog at my side. With no neighbors, there was never any threat, any danger.

Paris proved to be a very different experience (dare I say, duh? No? Okay then). I couldn’t see the stars anymore, there were no more familiar constellations guiding me, only the cold eery glow of electricity. For the first few years I didn’t know much of Paris at night, being occupied mostly by being awesome too young. But now, a junior in high school, I’m allowed to go out and only come back around 1 am. My family, being too busy with stuff like yelling at each other for no good reason, doesn’t care if I don’t come back for the night at all. As for coming to get me so I won’t have to make the journey alone? No way. Confronted with this apparent lack of caring, I started fending for ME and walking myself home.

Nonetheless, it’s spooky to watch all of your friends leave with their parents in safe warm cars and knowing that you have to walk all the way home, your awful (they really are terrible) self-defense skills being the only thing keeping you from potentially being mugged. And of course the only story you can think of is of the girl who got mugged on your street a few years back.

As I left my friend’s tonight, I shivered slightly even though the temperature was still high, and set off at a brisk walk through the deserted streets, trying to look (and feel) confident. I’ve become pretty paranoid, despite all of my attempts to be calm. Every person that I cross is immediately perceived as a threat, at which point I generally start running (bad idea?) only to then realize that it’s a frail old grandmother walking her poodle. Ah well. Paris is very different from, say, New York. The majority of French people go to bed relatively early, so you don’t see many humans out at midnight, though aliens abound. Even if you’re walking with someone or in a group, the atmosphere is very different, it’s hard to compare the Avenue Henri Martin in the daytime, a bustling, busy avenue, with the Avenue Henri Martin at night, tall trees casting shadows over the sidewalk, masking the faint light from the streetlamps. Night and day really are two different worlds. With sore blisters on my feet I ran most of the way back, heart pounding, clutching the bag from which I’d been careful enough to remove all valuables from. I took the trip one segment at a time, avoiding the smaller, darker streets, trying to blend in with my surroundings. When I finally made it to my apartment, forehead gleaming with sweat, muscles aching, I felt a singular sense of relief. I was finally safe.

Oh and look, my mom and brother engaged in a screaming match at one in the morning. Not so much as a look when I came in. How nice. Luckily for my insulted being, my amazing friends were kind enough to check up on me, making sure that I’d gotten home safely. I had, and I always do. Yet for some reason I get a little more scared each time, sure that I’m the perfect target. Despite all of this, I will not miss out on the wonderful nights with my friends. Whatever comes my way, I will face it, alone. And if it happens to be a threat, I will either willingly give up what they ask for or offer them a cookie as compensation.

The world is very big, and in perspective, I’m just a tiny speck of dust. As I finish writing this post, I find myself feeling more confident. To be fair, I’m also sitting on my couch, blocking out all high pitched noises with a cup of tea. Nevertheless, this small speck of dust will do anything to keep from being blown away in the breeze, and, hopefully, will grow into something like a mothball in terms of importance and influence. I now realize that that isn’t a very good metaphor, and if you have a better suggestion, I will hear it willingly.

Also, when I have kids, no matter where they are or what time it is, I will always be there to pick them up and bring them home safely.

Live long and prosper \V/

Yours sincerely,

The Mostly Confused Teenager.