Anglo Adventure

Travel with a sense of humor


Happiness With or Without

laneprycesuicide diamonds

My kind of diamonds

“I feel like I just went to my own funeral. I didn’t like the eulogy.” Lane Pryce, Mad Men.

(Note: I started this post before the Lane Pryce’s suicide on Mad Men but finished it after. The show got me thinking about happiness and how many Americans connect it to work and wealth, such capricious things.)

Happiness is strange. I feel it when the moment is already slipping passed; it’s like trying to grasp a kite string. Like when I am about to move again or when I am on my way back from a trip and I look out the airplane window:

You know what, I was happy there in that place, on that beach. That was nice.

And there it goes.

“You’ll never think your life is easy”

mad men worker bee

I hope this bee notices how pink this flower is. Amazing!

I don’t know who said this, but it’s so true.
Continue reading



So You Want to be a Writer?

When it is truly time

and if you have been chosen it will do it by

itself and keep doing it

until you die or it dies in you

there is no other way

and there never was ~Bukowski

 (Read the rest of it here).

So you want to be a writer. Allow me to snicker for a second. Not at you. At what you think of writing and the grimy REALITY of writing professionally, commercially or even creatively.

Many people want to be writers because of that glorious moment when they’ll trumpet to their parents, their friends or to whomever:

“I am a writer.”

You’ll be awash in admiration. You get to be the person behind the table at a book signing, the center of attention surrounded by a crowd  wearing skinny ties and vanity glasses and people who sip glasses of red wine,  lamenting on the latest best seller.

That moment is rare. And I will probably never experience it.

But I don’t write for that moment.

I write for the moment in the middle of the night, when something in me stirs – an idea. When it feels as if the brain is plugged directly into my imagination and I get the experience down beautifully. When I am not thinking, when I am half-lucid and my fingers are flying.

I can sit there for hours this way.

But Writers Never Feel Like Writers

You picture the writing life as something like this. A fancy literary event with cocktails. But most of the time I work alone in sweats.

Even writers with a capital W probably don’t feel like they can call themselves writers. I say probably because I am a writer with a lowercase “W”.

I have had one poem published in a chapbook (and subsequentally, a community newspaper) and a whole lotta paragraphs published in a travel guide, and a bunch of other blogs, newspaper articles, etc. I even won an award for an article I wrote on bees of all things.

I still hesitate when that damn What Do You Do? question comes up. I decided I am going to start calling myself a carpenter. It’s artistic, Jesus did it, and women carpenters are pretty rare. And that’s cool.

Even with a six-year writing career and minor accomplishments, I still feel like a fraud. Like I can’t possibly belong to the same art form as Bishop and Vonnegut and Dave Eggers. I don’t want people to assume that by calling myself a writer I think am at that level. Continue reading


Why are Americans so fat? 5 clues from skinny countries

The Stereotype:

betty draper fat,

Betty Draper - fat and rich. Classic American stereotype.

(Disclaimer: I don’t care that Betty Draper is fat. It makes her more human. Read about why we care so much.)

If you plan to live abroad, expect to be asked, “Why is everyone in your country so fat?” Pre-arm yourself with a response because it’s likely to make you mad.

Real-life Examples:

My dentist once told me to open my mouth like I was eating a Big Mac. I almost retorted with, “why don’t you open your mouth like you’re eating a baguette?” 

A Moroccan friend announced to our class that I gained weight. I attributed this more to a cultural misunderstanding more than my three-week binge over Christmas in the States.

My French teacher once said, “Les femmes qui viennent des Estas Unis sont groses” I responded with a “C’est pas vrais!”

I love Americans, I am American and I can finally admit the truth: Yes, yes we are. We are fatter than Canada and probably most other countries. But why? What the hell is going on here? All I had to do was cross to the Great White North and I felt like I shed five pounds within the first month. I didn’t drastically change my eating habits and actually picked up a few bad ones.

Fries with mayo? Pourquoi pas! Weekly poutine? Oui, oui.

And it’s not like Canada doesn’t have an obesity problem. But the American percentage is around 10% higher. Continue reading


Three things that fill me with rage

People that won’t SHUT THE FUCK UP about study abroad.

european train system study abroad

We get it. You took the train abroad and it was orgasmic.

I have never studied abroad, so I don’t really understand the need to act like you have some intimate knowledge/understanding of a country when all you did was drink wine, do ecstasy, and have sex with random strangers you met on the train. Oh the trains. Oh how everyone loves the trains.

Of course, you love the trains in Europe. And the food. And the men. What’s not to love? We get it. You spent three months, 10 years ago, traveling with your friends on a credit card your parents gave you.

That my friend, is not living abroad. Living abroad is spending what-would-be Thanksgiving at a government office trying to get a driver’s license, only to find out that you have no idea how to ask in French for this special form that customs never gave you. “The B-122 Form.” You need it. But what is it?

Moi: “…Encore sil-vous-plait.”

La personne: “Tu as besoin la feuille B-133.” 

Moi: “Quoi?!” (isn’t feuille – leaf. Why would I ‘have need’ for a leaf? Also, florescent lighting makes us all look like zombies and should be banned. Immediately.)

La personne: Bienvenue en enfer…

United Airlines

United Airlines bad customer service

found at

I received the worst customer service of my life from United Airlines. They cancelled my flight for a mechanical issue, which probably meant the pilot had a hangover or a bad case of ass worms. When I called back the customer service rep said they reimburse for hotels and just book one and send the receipt to the refund department.

Lies. Continue reading


How to talk truth: Larry Clark Master Class

Larry Clark comes to Quebec City and reminds me not to give a fuck. 

Remember the movie Kids? You know, with all the fucking, drinking teenagers? That movie shocked me when I saw it at the innocent age of 15. But I loved it. I loved it because it presented kids just like the ones in my neighborhood – mostly my brother’s friends, who used to have crazy parties at my house while my single mom was busy working two jobs.

I loved it because it was raw and honest. I loved it because after awhile it was banned from the video store I used to walk to and we couldn’t find it anymore.

I love it because Larry Clark doesn’t care. He doesn’t care what you think or what I think. He speaks for “degenerates,” he makes art out of little known realities. “This is what’s happening.”

Life isn’t all pearls and garden clubs. People, yes even teenagers do drugs, have sex, get addicted to various substances, struggle, murder, commit suicide. He has the balls to show it.

Larry Clark came to Quebec City and I attended his master’s class and viewed the film for the first time in 15 years. It made me more uncomfortable this time because I’m an adult now and watching kids do whipits and have sex is horrifying. It’s not me anymore – these are teenagers, all pointy limbs and filthy mouths and tight tee shirts. Continue reading

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An expat look back on September 11

Imagine there’s no countries ~ John Lennon


I don’t have a special story, a personal connection, or even a crazy conspiracy theory. Frankly, I am unsure of what to write or if I should be writing about it at all. I don’t want to wallow in the moment or capitalize off of it. But it is a moment that seems significant to me, as a then-20-year-American-college student living on a University campus. 

My 9/11 non-experience goes something like this:

I woke up in my dorm room bed, on top of a plastic mattress cover that squeaked every time I moved. I looked at the alarm: I was late for Linguistics. So I didn’t watch the news that morning. I didn’t realize what had happened until after it happened but I distinctly remember knowing something was different. The halls were unusually quiet; the TVs were unusually loud. Continue reading

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A vacation home

expat travel blog

I didn't do that to the statue. Swear.

So, you know how good I was getting at French? I don’t know if I became bored with the intense vocabulary or just tired of trying to get that put the word in your nose thing down or if my brain went into overdrive but my French is now tres, tres, tres mauvais.

Before you correct me on my lack of accents realize that a) I am using an American keyboard probably made in China and b) I could give a fuck right now. Oh and c) I am on a petite vacanes from Francais classe.

I am going to New York in two days. I can order a bagel and say, “Can I get a bagel?” It’s going to be magical. Continue reading

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In answer to the rest of my life question


quebec city lost, us economy, great britain riots

Where do I go from here?

I am frustrated today.

Frustrated with the falling US economy because I am not sure now what it means for my future.

Frustrated that there are half a million kids in Somalia who may die because they don’t have enough food and all we can talk about is pensions and 401Ks and elections.

I am also frustrated with the rioters in Great Britain. I get that people are angry, I really get it, but channel your rage into positive action. Hold a sign. Don’t burn down someone’s business.

Also, banning social networking because of this is a fine example of dumbassery. People still use telephones. They will find a way to get in touch with other rioters. Sure, maybe it’s not “meet me at Trafalgar square” for some riot action but I am positive that the riot wasn’t caused by social networking. Continue reading

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What it means to be a writer

I finally understand the term media circus.

The only other important thing to be said about Fear & Loathing at this time is that it was fun to write, and that’s rare — for me, at least, because I’ve always considered writing the most hateful kind of work. I suspect it’s a bit like fucking — which is fun only for amateurs. Old whores don’t do much giggling. – Hunter S. Thompson

I’ve managed to wiggle into a newspaper here: one of those tiny, seemingly insignificant publications on the verge of dying out. The anglo community is small and incestuous and I’m on the fringes. The new girl. The strange one. I love my work because I believe it’s meaningful in some sense. It’s a chance to speak the truth. I love talking to people, asking questions, figuring out stories. Continue reading

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There’s No Place Like Home – A Revelation


expat, expat to Canada, Quebec City

Where I live - Quebec City


With the passage of time, a move, even a Big One becomes easier. I am starting to pick up French words on television and in restaurants. Some day, I’ll clip them out of the air and make them into collages.

Milestones: I took the bus and didn’t get lost. I wandered into a French bookstore and spotted the book “Snow White”. I successfully completed three transactions in French. One day, I won’t be able to count them.

Nothing scares me anymore. Continue reading