Leslie McCalloway

It took me 23 years but I finally did it: I went to the gym.
It took me steps, too:
First, laughing at your friends for going to the gym and being SO American.
Then, admitting that yes, it is American and totally stupid but maybe, MAYBE there is a good thing hidden somewhere.
Talking with some American friends who lived in France and listen to them saying how they were shocked that nobody works out in France.
Listening to your American friends who lived in France slowly laughing at you with the evil laugh of victory.
Listening to your family telling you that “Pffff, seriously, why did you even spend money for that, that’s pure bullshit!”.

The thing is, the US makes you feel like you have to go to the gym. Streets are full of people running, whether it’s 20° or 110°. And then, it makes you feel guilty about not working out. I don’t know how, but that works, and every French person that I know here and who at first refused to work out has now subscribed to a gym because they felt guilty.

So, I finally subscribed. I still couldn’t get in because of some mistakes during the process. I thought it was a sign. I waited another week.

I went back, expecting to find an almost empty place. And then… I found a loud crowded place. And everybody looked so concentrated, so into it, just this first look was worth the pain!

I won’t talk about my boyfriend training me, pushing me and trying to “encourage” me. I still hate him too much for that to even mention him.
I won’t talk about the people there being so funny.
I won’t talk about the really nice and artistic music .
I won’t even talk about the fact that there are TVs all around.

Instead, I’ll just make a small recap of this more-than-a-year personal dilemma:
moving in the US – laughing – debating with yourself – feeling guilty – subscribing – feeling the weight of Destiny above your shoulders – being amazed / amused / shocked – suffering.

That’ll be the only thing I’ll remember: suffering. Putain…

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French women don’t pee. It’s called survival instinct.

When you’re a girl and you have to spend the day outside of your comfy home, there is always a moment when you’ll need a bathroom. Not that guys don’t pee, just that it’s easier to pee outside when you’re a guy than when you’re a girl.
And here is a wonderful thing about the USA: their public restrooms. Not that France does not have some no. It’s just not the same kind.

When I arrived to the US, I would never use a restaurant’s bathroom. I had this conviction that it would be disgusting. But I don’t know how they do that but peeing in a public bathroom in the US is like peeing on gold. Seriously.

For those of you who want to visit France… well, France isn’t exactly the same way. Walking to a public restroom can become an adventure. Of course, some restrooms are great. We have one clean public bathroom in Lyon. We’re proud of that. For the rest, there are some things you need to go before going to France.

First, you don’t use a restroom if you’re not a client. No, you can’t enter a Starbucks in France, or any café / restaurant just to use their restroom. They want your money first. Depending on where you go, you might even need a code. Now, I’m thinking about Mc Donald’s, but I’m sure it’s true for some other places too. I told you, they want your money, so the code is on your receipt. It even happened to me that I got checked by some security guy. In case of an out of law pee.

Second, don’t wear open shoes. I told you, going to the bathroom in France can be an adventure. I was not joking. The floor is really muddy. It seems like it rained / snowed in this little room. It also seems that this little room used to be a mountain path. Don’t forget. Wear hiking shoes.

Third, don’t sit. Seriously, don’t sit. That’s how French girls work out. You do not know what was on this toilet seat. Though, you can guess just by looking at it. Avoid any skin contact.

Fourth, bring your money. Not everywhere, but in some places, you’ll find some pee ladies. They’re not really made out of pee, that’s just a name. But sometimes yes, you’ll have someone seated in front of the restroom and asking for your money. You can’t pee if you don’t pay.

So, as you can guess, fifth, pee before leaving for your day. French women learn not to pee during their childhood – schools’ bathrooms ain’t any better. You can do it too, but it requires that you don’t forget to use your bathroom before leaving. Or you’re screwed.

So, next time you go to a public bathroom in the US, enjoy, take pictures of the place, have a little party there. Because you won’t be able to do that in France.

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I don’t

I got used to some cultural shocks. Not to all of them though. For example, I still don’t get this “getting married” thing.

On my first day of class, some girl asked my 18 year old roommate: “What did you think of the boys? One of them will be your husband!” She was serious. Okay, she was also a sorority girl, but it doesn’t excuse everything, does it?

And as I went on in my Midwestern life, I realized that for a lot of girls, getting married was the ultimate goal in life. Getting married to someone you think you love is good. Getting married to someone who studies medicine is better. I actually met some girls telling me that they were studying in order to find a good (understand: rich) husband and become housewives. That’s a lot of self-esteem! I later learnt that they have a noun: MRS.-degree. Let me tell you something: when you have a word for something, it’s already too late.

The MRS-degree are not the only ones. Some girls just want to get married because… well, I still don’t know why. It seems to me that people think that getting married will create a new dimension to their love. It surely does create a new dimension to your life, but is it supposed to change the way you feel towards someone? Getting married is not anymore a long-time engagement, it’s a one day celebration in which the bride is supposed to be the most beautiful and important girl. The groom is kind of important too – but he comes second. And for the bridesmaids… the only thing we ask them is to be less beautiful than the bride. Well, the good point is that when you get to see the pictures, you’re having a really good laugh! It seems that the bride picks the dresses thinking “is it ugly enough?”.

Then, you have the people who wait to be married in order to live together – or more. It might surely make the proposal come faster! Living together is such a huge engagement, I would have hated getting married, moving in with my new husband and realizing I hated his habits. Well, too late, you signed, you’re screwed!

Since I moved here, I’ve met so many young girls who are now getting married… I’m not against marriage, I’m just wondering “why do you need to do that at the beginning of your life?” France’s average age for marriages is 30. A lot of my friends have lived together for years and are not married. They’re not less happy. They have time to think about the decisions they’re making. They’re not less committed to each other either.

I’m not happy, though, when people ask me why my boyfriend and I don’t get married and get upset when I say we don’t want to. I’m not happy when people tell me that marrying him would get me a green card.

So, Midwestern girls, let’s make it clear: I’m 23, I don’t want to get married and I’m perfectly happy.

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Did you just call me fat?

I got my daily Groupon email. Yeah, booh, booh, capitalism, consumption society, holala! Well. For those of you who don’t know about Groupon, basically, it is a great website on which you can buy stuff or service at a really good price, it’s like a good deals’ website.

So, as I said, I received my daily email. They offered a liposuction. I admit it, I had to check in my dictionary that we were all talking about the same thing. Liposuction, liposuccion, yeah, really different. But I simply couldn’t believe it. They were trying to sell me a surgical operation online!

And people actually bought it…

I tried to imagine some situations:

-Oh honey look, a deal on a liposuction, let’s get it for you!

-Yeah, I just bought your Christmas present. Better than the vacuum this time!

-Great, a deal on a liposuction, I didn’t know what to do this week-end and I had this $1,000 that I didn’t know how to use…

-Mmmh, I don’t really want it, but come on, I would save more that $2,000!

Not mentioning the fact that on this ad, you have a woman – or more precisely a woman’s body – and that I’m really upset by this anti-feminism picture. So, guys can’t have liposuction? It’s a women’s thing?

You can also notice a picture of the sea, because everybody knows that Kansas City is so close to the sea, that’s why we have this amazing oceanic climate here.

I seriously don’t get what people had in mind when they bought it, but I really hope nobody bought it as a present for someone else. It’s like offering a toothbrush, except that it’s more expensive.

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They’ll make me hate Christmas

After Thanksgiving and Black Friday, it’s time for Christmas. And by Christmas, the US means “horrible songs every day on every radio station and every public place”. Okay, maybe not every radio station. But when I learnt that some stations will change all their programs into Christmas songs programs, I decided to be dramatic again.

We were having brunch in a restaurant which, of course, was playing Christmas songs. Totally understandable, it was November 27th, not like if Christmas was a month from there… There are a lot of fun, joyful Christmas songs. Like those ones. As you can imagine, they are not the ones that restaurants will choose. They will pick the depressing songs. I heard several people complaining so I asked the waitress if they had a law about Christmas songs. Turns out they don’t! Go figure why they do that then… the waitress was so happy that I asked her to change the music, the people around us too. When she finally put something else (The Who, could she do better?) the whole atmosphere changed. Waiters smiled more. Customers began to laugh louder. Do those Christmas songs that are supposed to make us happy just change us into morose monsters?

Now, I’m just afraid to go to any public place in case of a songs attack. I was walking home tonight, thinking “okay, I don’t have a car, no radio, I’m safe” when I saw a group of middle-aged people singing Christmas songs on the street. That was a low Christmas songs attack. Really low.

The good thing about December though is the Advent Calendar. But now, instead of thinking “how many days before Christmas?”, I think “how many days before they stop with their Christmas songs?”

Booh, let’s admit it… they won’t make me stop loving Christmas time, I’ll just keep earplugs all day long!

Don’t watch the video with kids… or do, but don’t blame me!

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