Anglo Adventure

Travel with a sense of humor

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New York – Fake fendis, pink cosmos & almost dying

I just got back from New York. It’s the first time I visited the city in ten years.

The energy astounds me. New York knows how to put me in my place and make me feel tiny. All of my flaws can be on display – like their garbage, on the street – and no one cares or even seems to notice. I spent half a day in Little Italy wearing these:

It was the best $6 ever spent.

No one said a thing, except one hustler, who called me Hollywood.

The search for fake fendis

Fendi_handbags.jpeg (280×280)

Fake fendi…or it is real?

Did I mention I have a crazy family? Because I do. I have a mom, sister, and male cousin who decided part of the New York experience was being led down a hidden corridor and into a room lined with counterfit handbags and filled with teenagers dressed in “I Love New York” tee-shirts.

“Purses, watches,” a squat, middle-aged Chinese man says. My cousin looks at him cooly, smoking a cigarette.

“Ok, where are they?” he asks.

The man shows a make-shift catalog and says if we buy one, he’ll pull up with the bags.

This won’t do for us. We’re native Chicagoans and not naive. Continue reading



Expating ain’t easy


Isolation. Not just for the young anymore.


Canadians and Americans share a lot of things – a continent, a border, a similar culture. So my assimilation into Quebec is about as easy as it can be. For others who come from completely different countries and continents, who don’t speak one of the two languages in Canada, it’s … indescribably painful. To pick up and move and resettle with no friends or family nearby. To adapt to an entirely new, fast-paced, and incredibly superficial world.

It’s more isolating that you can imagine: Setting up Skype dates just to talk to your family. Not being able to talk to your neighbors because you don’t speak the language. Missing movies, theatre events, and all those other things you enjoy regularly. Continue reading

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Conjugation & Caring. Or What I Learned in French Class

french quebec anglo

To learn is to dream

My new routine is both intimidating and invigorating. At 6:30 am I arise to a dark room and brumal chill. I shower, I apply make-up, and carefully select the day’s wears. I make coffee and pack my Rosie the Riveter lunch box. I walk down the big hill and around the bend to my car and then I drive to school.

I’m back in first grade.

Or full-immersion French for immigrants, held five days a week in class 302.

The students’ names are tapped to the desks: Gloria, Mimosa, Hiroma, Yuka, Amande. Wonderful names with soft rolling Rs and whispered Ms.

The days of the week and months are spelled out on construction-paper and hung to the board. Flashcards with pictures of books, cake, cats, and more trim the ceiling.

We  practice the alphabet and play Bingo and Memory. When we leave class, we put our chairs on the desks. I expect to play the French-version of “Heads Up, 7Up.”

Every day, my mind floods with memories of how I struggled cutting Christmas trees into construction paper (I’m lefty), the putrid smell of the orange powder Janitor Bob used to cover up throw-up, and the smell of new books and pencils.

I’m brought back to the adoration I had for my teachers, especially Mrs. Hubert, the one who first unlocked my language; the one who taught me to read, write, and imagine.

We're all human. We're all alike.

The most heartwarming part of this process is the camaraderie of the classmates. There are only two other Anglos in class. Some speak Spanish, some Japanese, one speaks Armenian. And yet we communicate. We help each other understand through hand motions and broken French. We share gummy bears, stories from our native countries, and our favorite sports teams and musicians.

It’s that magical time early in life when your only mission is to observe and absorb. Before everyone got mean and jaded and before all the kids started competing for grades, boyfriends, best friends. It’s sharing and caring. The good stuff. The stuff in our genetic make-up; the stuff that makes us human.

I found the fountain of youth in an immersion French class for Canadian immigrants. Who knew?