Thursday, October 3, 2013

La Francophile: Growing Pains

WARNING: I am about to pour my heart out to you, leaving me very vulnerable.

Learning to become a French woman is no easy feat after living in America all your life. I'm convinced one of my ancestors somewhere was French, otherwise I'd be even more lost.

Alors, (I had to sneak a French word in here somewhere!) I suppose that I'm doing pretty well after only three weeks of being in love with France, but it's not fast enough for me. I want to be able to walk, talk, eat, live like a French woman.

Right this moment.

And sometimes, I get ahead of my own detriment.

This week, I have been reading Frederic Fekkai's Year of Style religiously, soaking up every bit of information about the way French women dress and act. One of his tips is to go through your makeup bag, taking everything that you could live without and putting it in a box. You don't need five shades of lipstick sitting on the bottom of your purse! If for a month you can go without using these products, toss 'em. I cleaned out my bag, throwing away a few old lip glosses, useless blush brushes, and a tube of dried foundation. It felt so wonderful to toss the old things out, so I emptied my whole purse! I found a few plastic darts (*yep*), pencils galore, three-year old lotions, and all kinds of little paper scraps. Tossing those out, and feeling like I  ruled the world (isn't it weird how you can feel that way over tiny things?), I decided to hit the closet.

Firstly, I went through and separated everything that I could live without from my essential pieces. Over half my closet was hanging on the 'Au revoir' side. I called my mother in to give me advice. (She is so amazing that way.) We went through the pile, and she gave me advice on whether things were Parisian or not. It must have been amusing for her:


Me: "Oooh! I love this pink plaid shirt! I couldn't give this away!"

Her: "Well, it's not very Parisian."

Me: *glances over shirt, tosses it into Au revoir pile* "Then it has to go." *picks up an argyle black sweater* "Hmm. I don't really like this. I don't think it looks good on me."

Her: "It's Parisian."

Me: *tiny squeal* "It is?!!?! I HAVE TO KEEP IT!"

Once the pile had been sorted out, I rearranged my drawer of pants and skirts, too. I had been clueless that I was the owner (or the borrower, in some cases :P) of so many linen pants, a staple to French women! I did a little happy dance.
Three quarters of my closet is empty right now, and it pleases me exceedingly to walk into it and view all those empty hangers! I felt so good giving away all those clothes I didn't need anymore!
And then...........the blow of all blows.
The next day, I pulled out my favorite Parisian staple, a pretty black and white print shirt---it looked so French!---and my white linen pants. I was so excited to hit the town in my new Parisian outfit. My mother took one look at the pants and declared: "It needs to be ironed." And she was very right. The pants were wrinkled as all get out. So I grabbed the ironing board and iron. I was just about to iron my pants when I had this idea: "I'm sure French women would iron their shirts too, right?" So I rushed to my room and pulled out the polyester shirt......and placed it on the ironing board. Without thinking to turn the heat down, I placed my iron on the shirt. You probably know what happened next when I pulled the iron up.
The back of my beautiful Parisian black-and-white-pattern staple was burnt and torn!!!! I am sure I must have been a sorry sight, gasping as I ran to my mother's room, gripping my ruined treasure, where she was cutting my little brother's hair.
"Mama, mama! Look, look!" I held the shirt up for her inspection.
I could tell she was upset too, and it took everything in me to keep my tears in. After a minute or two, she said: 'I'm sorry, but you have to throw it away." 
So it now lies on the bottom of our garbage can, a fallen star. For a few hours, I inwardly cursed myself. Why had I been so careless? Why? Why did I have the idea to iron my shirt? It didn't really need it, anyway!. I alternated between sadness and anger at myself for a while until I realized I was still in my pajamas. So I picked another shirt to wear with my linen pants and called it good.

My mother was so patient through it all. I don't really know what I would do without her. That afternoon, she took me to Goodwill to see if I could find another black and white shirt. Unfortunately, all the cute ones were too small. But she did find my new favorite: A crazily-Parisian beige wool sweater! IT WAS SOOOO CUTE, and just my size. When she pulled it from the rack, I didn't like it. She told me to try it on, and she (as usual), was soooo right. I LOVED IT!

For Wednesday night bible study, I wore my new sweater with some beige-striped linen pants, brown leather ankle boots, my new pearl bracelet my father brought me from Japan, and a pair of pearl earrings my mother let me borrow. I wore my hair in a side ponytail. I received more compliments on that outfit than almost any other outfit I've ever worn! :)

And that's only one story of me failing while trying to be French. Last week, I attempted to make macaroons. As I was adding the almond flour to the batter, it became very stiff. I added the exact amount that was called for, so I supposed it would get a little better once I piped it on the baking sheet. I couldn't pipe it, it was so stiff. It was the consistency of a roll-out cookie, not a pipeable macaroon! After stressing about it for a while, I made the best of it: I rolled the dough in my hands, placed them on the sheet, made a slight indentation with my thumb in the middle, and baked them. When they came out, I pushed the indendation further and filled it with strawberry jam.

Voila! An Almond-Strawberry Tumbprint cookie! I thought they tasted horrible, but my sister told me they were the best cookies she had ever tasted. Even with this encouragement, they were thrown away the next day. Oh well. :)

It was so painful writing this post....I was wincing as I typed the part about my ruined shirt. But, this will all be worth it when I move to France. I'll already be comfortable in the shoes of a French woman!

Have a wonderful day, mes amis!

Au revoir!!! <3

~Alyssa  <3



  1. Great blog post Alyssa! You are always fun to read!
    Hungry for more!

  2. you have a nice blog! mind to check out mine? maybe we can follow each other :)


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