Sunday, May 24, 2009

Changing towns, changing countries, changing communities

I miss Brooklyn. I miss community...

Loving France
I'm so fortunate to live in France. It seems that all my life has led up to me leaving The United States for Europe. I love the cafés, the charming towns, the language, the literature, université, the small cars, the culture...of course some of the frummies far and wide here would say that I am only attracted to the goyishe part of France, the cafés I should give up, why should I 'hang out' there...since when is sitting with a friend, drinking a coffee 'haning out?'

Connection to France
I hold very dear to me the french language and my time spent here. A part of me doesn't want to let go, I want to always be able to come back here whenever I feel the need. I will always need some connection with this country and the language, I'd never feel complete without it.

A part of me was in search of my roots but they certainly do not lie in France...I recovered those in Brooklyn. Since living there I have moved back to France, with the plans of staying here forever--that is until I started feeling rather isolated.

Challenging religiousness
I live in a little town not far from the university. In a way I prefer it, that way I do not have a community watching my every move. There is a jewish 'black hatter/sfardi' community about an hour from here that I do spend much time in...yet though I might be religious I am in no way close-minded, in fact I have had to bite my tongue on many issues with religious people there. (As usual, it wasn't any different in Brooklyn) At some point I just wonder when I'll be comfortable saying 'this is who i am, this is what I think' and we can agree to disagree, but after I always regret saying what I feel: whether it be about children or university...etc so many topics...

One woman asked me what I'd do with my degree once I got my masters, I said I'd like to teach at university. Her responce was nothing less than a complete rejection: quel horreur (what horror, aka what a terrible job, teaching goyim, in that goyishe environment.)

What do you say to that ...after being in university for 7 years, loving every second of it, dedicating years to it, and getting fulfillment out of it?

My feelings were hurt, yet I suppose I was challenging her religiousness...

Wishing to be apart
Sad part is I want to be apart of a jewish community, I am alone here. I do not have one frum friend. Keeping kosher is a real challenge. It is starting to wear me down. There is a large muslim community here, I see the muslim women walking together, dressed alike, complete with 'jelaba' and 'hijab' and I envy them, I wish I had a community, friends and support.

I refuse to give up, of course.
I have to make a change. Marriage would be a good start. Changing towns would be too. Yet I don't think I could live in that jewish community one hour from here. I just don't like it there. I think I'd be bored out of my mind. Going for shabbos is fine, living there fulltime is something else.

I feel that at some point for me to rejoin a community, that I would have to close off my mind to a certain extent. I hate feeling in conflict with what I think and believe and how others impose their beliefs on me. The issue always being 'you can't go there or do or say that, if people find out you won't get a shidduch- we believe like this...' Though my shidduch proposals have been rather lousy if you ask me.

Something here is missing.
Well, nothing compares to Brooklyn. Eventhough I am sure the mentality is much more closed there on certain issues, at least when I lived there I was surrounded by caring wonderful people. I had support. I felt connected to the culture, to the language (yiddish). I wasnt alone, I was proud of walking down the street and everyone knowing 'she is chassidish.' I lived in one of the most amazing cities, with the big apple 2 dollars away. The possibilities felt endless. Funny I should say that, when my afflilation was with none other than Satmar, some of my friends dared not even enter Manhattan for fear of seeing 'untznious' things.

Is it really all or nothing?
I guess that what I am writing here is rather conflicting. I want a community yet at the same time, I fear not being able to live in one. I want to go back to my chassidishe friends, I'd like to find a chassidishe husband, yet I love France eventhough I am so alone...

Sadly, I suppose my core is just not chassidish or even litvak or even traditional orthodox at this point: I want to teach at university. Can't I do that at be chassidish? Why can't it be done? Before I do that, I have to get my doctorate...

Is it really all or nothing?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Nuit Blanche

"Nuit Blanche" (pronounced, nui-blansh, for lack of better 'phonetic writing ') is the phrase used to say 'staying up all night.'

Opps I did it again...It is 4:34am and I was up doing research for my paper. I must say interesting research and not very difficult. One of my dissertations to turn in (in one month, I better get on the ball!) is on the intersemiotic translation of The Exorcist (by William Peter Blatty, novel, 1971)...aka how the book became a movie and what changed. The research is a ton of fun, not to mention watching the movie this late at night.
I found out that most people when they saw this film were incredibly terrified. Some fainted in the movie theater, horribly grossed out, many puked. One man who was a barber left his job to join the preisthood. Europe had a particularly harsher reaction.
Read it for yourself:

Grey Gardens

I must say other than my long time admiration for Scully and Mulder on the X-files, I am not a big movie goer. But once and a while I come across something that interests me.

I just saw Grey Gardens, film (2009) and documentary (1975). Both just blew me away. I am really not a fan of Drew Barrymore but she played Little Eddie so well. Bravo! The end of the film had me crying, the thought that Little Eddie wasted her whole life in that house, her whole life! And during those 30 years, didn't bother to clean up ONCE! She seems like a sweet person, she got her big break, eventhough it was exposing the utter garbage she lived in.

What intrigues me is how off are those two really (Big Eddie, mother and Little Eddie, daughter)? Are they really so insane? How did they manage to live in that house falling apart, a tree was comeing through the wall, it's branch hung as a sort of decoration I suppose. I actually liked it. Other than that, the pile of cat food cans and probably cat feces to the cieling was less attractrive. How did they live in such a smell? Why couldn't they face the world? It breaks my heart to see how much Little Eddie was guilt ridden to stay with her mother, sacrificing her own life...instead they lived in their dillusion. and at 58 she thought she was going to finally get her big break into show biz, her mother knew that she missed that one, but I suppose her mother was too selfish to push the bird out of the nest.

Why or how for that matter did I come across this, living in France.?Well my mother called me and told me that I reminded her of Little Eddie (the one with the schmatah!), oh mother, dear sweet oblivious mother, I do not ressemble little Eddie! Though she is quite unique, I appreciate her and her style.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Jewish North African Food

France's southern jewish community, is mainly comprised of north african jews. In some instances you may hear them being refered to as 'les pieds noirs.' They arrived in France in the 60s, from countries such as Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco..etc--praticising various degrees of religiosity, yet nevertheless clinging to their traditions.

Marseille, France has a nice 'black hatter' community, which was started by a few English orthodox Ashkenazim about 20 years ago. I spend a lot of time there actually. The community is made up of many baalei teshuva and a few FFBs as well.

Their traditions range from household to household.

Moroccan's are known for their mint tea: a few pinches of green tea in boiling water to give it body, mixed with a bunch of french mint leaves. Nothing better~!

I was suprised to find out that Havdula here is very different from the Ashkenazic one I am used to hearing from Boro Park, same goes for Bentchen/Birchas Hamazoin..

The shabbos seuda, or 'repas chabbatique'

Is comprised of challot, fish (salmon mostly), dafina (a sfardi version of chulent) and favorite meal!

Voilà some photos:
Dafina: (aka chulent) with eggs and blé (wheat/barley)


The food is amazing.
Today I am going to a barbeque serving merguez and

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I have come to cherish my studies very much. I can't say I was really studious before. School just seemed an obligation with no meaning for me, until the one day I learned my first sentence in French.

My neighbor was a highschool french teacher. She taught me random words and phrases as I was growing up~but who would have known that it would have been in my destiny to come to France, and to also become a language teacher. Makes me smile that this is the path I have taken. I love it.

Sometimes I notice how things unwind, how each little detail seemed somehow connected to a greater plan, which led me to this moment. Down to the day that I fell and scarred my knee, to those little moments in shul that made me want to become more religious. To the many languages that held all the possibilities of a better life.

Also funny how I randomly fell into translation. I had come to France with the idea of doing a master in French Literature and when they heard my accent, gave me a schedule for translation. Now that I look back on how I almost changed in the middle of the first semester and was rather depressed by not spending my days reading Ronsard, it seems quite bashert that I stayed. Having english as a first language in France has it's benefits. People want to learn it. And for the course work I chose the text.

Coming here has given my life so much meaning. I feel so greatful that my daily existance seems to be that dream I had as a child. Being able to roam french streets in the old city. When I stop for a second and look around me I really am in disbelief that I am living in France, that I speak a language I only started learning at the age of 15 and just persued by pure curiosity to see how other people lived, it fascinates me.

Things are just so different here and I love chosing to be somewhere that I didn't know existed or could exist before I learned how to even say 'bonjour.'
Quand vous serez bien vieille, au soir, à la chandelle,
Assise auprès du feu, dévidant et filant,
Direz, chantant mes vers, en vous émerveillant :
« Ronsard me célébrait du temps que j’étais belle ! »
Lors, vous n’aurez servante oyant telle nouvelle,

Déjà sous le labeur à demi sommeillant,
Qui au bruit de Ronsard ne s’aille réveillant,
Bénissant votre nom de louange immortelle.
Je serais sous la terre, et, fantôme sans os,

Par les ombres myrteux je prendrai mon repos ;
Vous serez au foyer une vieille accroupie,
Regrettant mon amour et votre fier dédain.

Vivez, si m’en croyez, n’attendez à demain :
Cueillez dès aujourd’hui les roses de la vie.
Pierre de Ronsard, Sonnets pour Hélène, 1587

I am not sure what I am going to do when school is over. I would love to do my doctorate, but who knows how I could finance that one...taking a year off and working would be nice experience. Go back to Brooklyn and just get married? Wouldn't mind finding someone here, or someone who would like to live here.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Language. One thing about me.

Je suis américaine, on le sait par mon accent :-)

Before the brute decision to return to France and sign up for a master program (literary translation) I had lived one year in Montpellier and finished my first degree in PA.
It had always been my dream of moving to France, since I began learning the language. For me the desire to visit a country lies within the ability to communicate. I have always been very fascinated by other countries and cultures--and the challenge of being able to express myself in another language. I don't think I will ever get tired of wanting to travel and see how other people live. There is just so much to see in this world.

Sad news, I just found out that Beatrice Arthur (actrice on the Golden Girls and Maude) has just died from cancer.

Love you Bea, will miss you RIP

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Le début

Où Commencer? Vive La France!

I suppose you may call me étoile, since that is a name I use quite often. I'm 24 years old and hope to be in France for my 25th birthday.

Visas are a pain, trying my hardest lately to gather all the teadious documents to get one. Wish me luck on Friday when I will be "judged" before the Consulat in Washington D.C.

If you should know anything about me, it is that I love France!

...Francophile to the utmost...

I wish nothing more than to spend the rest of my life there.