Where is Bryan?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Paris: November 13

It's nuts that just two weeks after becoming French, the biggest attack against everything this nation stands far happened just blocks from my apartment. But I am safe. Those close to me are safe. It's just a bit surreal. Other people are suffering, having lost loved ones, and I can't imagine what that's like.

So I'll be brief.

General de Gaulle famously proclaimed in 1944, "Paris outraged. Paris broken. Paris martyred. But Paris liberated." Three of those things hold true today, following Friday's horrible attacks. "Liberated," however, is far from how I feel in this city at this moment.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

He's French!

Where is Bryan? Recorded happily in the registry of French citizens. A young boy from Bucks County has grown up to be a naturalized Frenchman. Bring on the Champagne and baguettes, please!

My letter came last weekend in a simple little white envelope, as if it held all the weight and importance of a bank statement. France doesn’t splash out on notifying its newest citizens, but I’m not concerned. I’m part of the cool crowd at last.

I was waiting to talk about my interview in February, slightly afraid that I’d be jinxing myself. Honestly, however, I actually thought I had a lot more time to post it. But here it is, a recap of the final step on the way to French citizenship. I hope it helps anyone else out there going through the process!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Berlin Marathon: Far from My Wurst Race

The Eiffel Tower of Berlin...
The poor German guy next to me was trying to get around the slow girls in front of us. He nearly tripped over me as he made his break, and I decided to wind off him for the next few miles. It was working, too.

This was the Berlin Marathon, one of the fastest courses in the world, and I was bound to get a personal record this year. Berlin is an easy weekend trip from Paris, so with no issues of jetlag, a tummy happily full of the previous day’s Chinese and Thai food, and a few gels pinned to my shorts, I was in it to win.

Well, I would win metaphorically speaking. The Kenyan who actually won had probably already finished by the time my resolve was kicking in fully. And his insoles popped out of both shoes on the way!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Live from Paris: Rock en Seine

When you think of Paris, music festivals don't immediately come to mind. Apparently the UK is where you go to see the real deal. But Rock en Seine definitely held my attention, especially since I’ve been hearing about it for the last 7 years and always ignored it. I just thought it was kind of a smaller deal than it really was. I guess I was wrong.

Heading out to Parc Saint Cloud, west of the city, I wasn’t really sure of what I was getting myself into. I was kind of imagining a big picnic with some music and dancing. Well, I was close…

Even though I really knew only a few of the artists, and a few others by name, the many English-speaking bands were enough to get excited. There were only a handful of French bands to get through, but I managed to miss all of them (funny how that happens…).

Friday, August 14, 2015

Tour Saint Jacques: Tower with a View

View from the top...

Just when I thought I had seen Paris from every angle…

For the last three years, the Tour Saint Jacques, that big flamboyant gothic belfry just down the street from City Hall, has been open to tourists during the summer. While the city offered a rare glimpse inside this prominent, but mysterious structure, I missed the boat the last two years. This year, I was not going to take any chances.

Dating back to the 15th century when it was part of a church, the Tour Saint Jacques survived the French Revolution (unlike the rest of the church) and underwent extensive renovations in the 19th century.

But I won’t ruin the tour for you. Your guide will take care of the details.

Friday, July 3, 2015

The PhD Marathon

The tome, draft 1.

My thesis director once told me that writing a dissertation is like a marathon. I smiled. I’d done that before, and loved it. So I figured, easy, right?

While a marathon only lasts four hours or so (well, for me) and this project has been three years in the making, there are indeed many similarities. And I feel like I am almost at mile 25. Having finally achieved my desired page count, the very first complete version of my thesis has been printed and will join me on a journey to China and Australia these upcoming weeks. I will reread, edit, highlight, scribble, and doodle all over it, polishing its very rough edges.

Thinking about doing a thesis at the Sorbonne? Whether it’s a masters or a PhD, it’s a good idea because, as mentioned before, it’s inexpensive, flexible, and often allows for time to work a job on the side. But I’d suggest training for a marathon first in order to get an idea of what it actually entails…

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Changing Habits: On Eating in Paris

When you get excited about strawberries, something has changed inside you...

While having lunch with some tourists, I polish off my quiche while nibbling at the many fresh vegetables in my salad. 

“What’s this?” one of the tourists asks, poking at one of the veggies. 

“It’s a white beet,” I tell her, explaining that the rest of the vegetables are seasonal, and that the salad will be slightly different in a few months. I launch into a whole thing about how it’s springtime, and the strawberries and asparagus fill the markets. I also tell her not to repeat “beet” too loudly, because it sounds like “penis” in French. We giggled.