The Liebster Award

Bonjour, mes amis!

On a lighter note than my last post, I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award by my dear friend Emily. I haven’t done an about-me post in a while and I’ve gotten a bunch of new commenters and followers in the meantime. So here’s a little fun diversion until the follow-up to my last post (coming soon, I hope).

The Liebster Award is an award given from one blogger to the next – a total of their favorite blogs – with fewer than 200 followers.

Rules:

  • link back and thank the blogger(s) who nominated you.
  • answer the 11 questions they give you
  • tag up to 11 bloggers who have 200 or fewer followers
  • ask your nominees 11 questions and let them know you tagged them!

So I may be biased because we’ve been friends for almost six (six?!) years, but Emily’s blog is amazing. If you love anything having to do with movies, TV and pop culture in general, you have to check out her blog. Oh, and did I mention you can find her writing for Elite Daily? Thanks for the nomination, girlie. Keep being awesome. I miss you!

OK, let’s see what we have here …

1. If you could have tea with any one person from history who would it be?

There are just so many! For a tea-drinking buddy, I’ll go with Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, mostly so I could just bask in her saintly awesomeness. I haven’t read her autobiography yet, but I took a trip to Lisieux a month ago and it made me love her even more. Anne Frank is also on that list, but instead of having tea, I’d rather have a sleepover where we read girly magazines and spill our souls until 5 a.m.

2. Who is your favorite pop culture vampire?

DRACULA. Nobody beats the original and the best. Dracula will never not be scary, and he will never, ever sparkle.

3. What was the first chapter book you remember reading?

There were probably others before it, but the first I distinctly remember reading was “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I’m an old soul, I know. Mary Lennox just fascinated me, probably because I was more of a Sara Crewe kind of girl. I specifically remember reading the chapter where Mary enters the garden for the first time. That was such a magical and exciting moment, and I don’t think I’d turned a page that fast before.

4. What’s up next in your Netflix Queue?

Nothing at the moment, because I’m in a country with spotty Netflix. But I do have “Lawrence of Arabia” and “The Virgin Suicides” from the library.

5. What is your favorite word?

You’re really making me pick just one?!

OK, for the purposes of this question, I love snarky in English, chamallow (marshmallow) in French, and squillare (to ring, like a phone) in Italian.

6. Which member of the Scooby Gang is your favorite?

Velma. She was always underrated, but to me, she seemed really awesome.

Oh wait, wrong show …

7. What is your favorite, ‘so bad it’s good’ movie to watch?

I had to really think about this one. I’ll have to go with Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s “Passport to Paris.” No, this movie is NOT the reason I love France, because that’s just insulting. I always watched this movie at the dentist’s office because I never owned it. It’s enjoyably over-the-top and silly, and living in France has debunked many of the stereotypes in that movie for me. On a side note, if the American ambassador to France doesn’t know what French fries are, he’s doing it wrong.

8. What music album changed the way you listen to music the most?

Vanessa Carlton’s “Be Not Nobody” was the first album I listened to and loved all the way through. This was back in her “A Thousand Miles” days — don’t lie, you still know all the words. It was the first time I had ever heard a hit song by a new artist and loved it so much that I wanted to buy the whole album. And guess what? I still love her. She’s still making music. Her best songs are not on the radio, which is a dang shame. Oh, and she just had a baby.

9. What house do you think you would be sorted into at Hogwarts?

Huffleclaw. Or Ravenpuff.

10. What is your favorite Broadway musical?

“Into the Woods.” Easy.

11. Which celebrity death will you never really get over?

It’s not really a death, per se, but I don’t think I’ll ever get over the Civil Wars breakup. Ever. That was just one of the most beautiful and perfect duos of all time. Chemistry like that doesn’t come around that often, and I’m sorry it didn’t work out for them. However, Joy Williams just released a new single and it’s awesome.

Whew, I did it! Amanda Livingston, Adventures of a Sunbeam, This M Word, No Money for a Compass, The Horseshoe Crab March, Confessions of an Aspiring Journalist, Bohemian Nerd, Dave’s Corner, THE FASHION MARIONNETTE, Curious Comet, and noveltreks, you’re up.

1. What’s one piece of advice you would give yourself five years ago?

2. Describe your dream place of residence.

3. What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?

4. Which song or artist in your music collection are you most embarrassed about?

5. What would you do if your blog had 1 million followers?

6. Which language would you most like to learn and why?

7. Finish this sentence: I could be happy without ____________.

8. If you could give a TED talk on any subject, what would it be about?

9. Which movie deserves a sequel?

10. If you could only eat one dessert for the rest of your life, what would it be?

11. Name one thing you did in the past week that you’re proud of.

Again, thank you Emily for nominating me. New nominees, go wild!

À bientôt!

– Vicky

Advertisements

My Accent is Weird, Part 1

A few weeks ago, I was in an organic market in town buying ingredients to make a red velvet cake. I had my shopping list with all the items written out in French so I could find them easily. I found everything except the buttermilk. I had written two possible French words for this one, so I confidently went up to the cashier and asked where the buttermilk was.

She stared at me blankly. I tried the other word. No good. As I was about to end the conversation, she signaled one of her coworkers to come over, saying, “Je ne parle pas anglais.” 

Mortified, I quickly paid for the rest of my stuff and left. I haven’t gone back since.

***

Many French people have told me that I speak very good French, and I’m always genuinely flattered by it. When someone makes a concerted effort to not just speak their language, but to speak it well, the French appreciate it.

However, I have never made it through more than a minute of conversation with a new French acquaintance without that person asking, “Where are you from?” or saying, in true matter-of-fact French fashion, “You have an accent.”

As an avid traveler, I’m constantly worried about falling into the “obnoxious American tourist” stereotype. I feel like I always have to prove that I’m trying to speak the language well and learn about the culture and not just ask where the nearest McDonald’s is.

It’s probably all in my head, but I hate the sound of my northeastern U.S. accent trying to finagle its way around all those beautiful French vowels and not-so-beautiful nasal vowels. It’s even worse when I make a grammar-related faux pas.

Last night, I walked home with two French friends from a meeting at the aumônerie. It was very cold and the wind blew my hood right off. What I should have said was, La capuche ne m’aide pas,” or “This hood isn’t helping me.” What I said was, Le capuche ne m’aide pas,” using the masculine instead of the feminine pronoun.

I quickly corrected myself, but one friend caught the error, laughed, and said, “It’s cute. It makes you charming.”

UGH.

I don’t think that’s the right response to a compliment, but instead of feeling flattered, I was frustrated that I had accidentally let my American freak flag fly again. Why? Is it because Americans have a bad reputation as tourists? Or do accents have the same effect as listening to a recording of your own voice?

Since then, I’ve been trying to answer the age-old question: why are foreign accents so attractive? I’m not just talking about people with accents being sexually attractive; admit it, even an accent you find grating or annoying catches your attention at first. The best answer I can come up with is that it’s an immediate conversation starter. Humans are curious beings. When someone speaks differently than you, you automatically ask yourself, “How did this person learn to speak like that? Where are they from? What’s their story?” Plus, you avoid the awkward moment of thinking of a conversation topic, because it’s ringing in your ears.

So if my American accent speaking French is “cute” and “charming,” why do I resent it so much? Perhaps it’s because I’m trying to assimilate as much as possible into the French culture, and my accent is one thing that immediately gives me away as not French. So much of our identity is engrained in the organs that allow us to speak, including the language centers of the brain. Even if I lived in France for the next 40 years and learned to speak perfect French, I might never lose that certain American something in my voice that the French would be sure to notice. Sometimes I feel like people hear my accent and not the words I’m speaking, or they see an American rather than me, Vicky.

It’s true that it takes some getting used to when you’re not familiar with a regional accent. But next time you meet someone with a different accent than you, I’d encourage you to listen carefully to their words, not just hear their voice. An accent is just a small part of a person’s identity. Differences should be celebrated, not fetishized.

Oh yeah, for the record, a sexy accent doesn’t necessarily indicate that this person is boyfriend/girlfriend material.

Good. Glad that message rang loud and clear.

À bientôt!

– Vicky

Question: Why do you think people find different accents attractive? Share your thoughts in the comments below!