Saturday, March 21, 2009

Primarily thoughts on the thoughts on Americans

We live here.

Here is France, a country immediately different from Spain. One crosses the border and finds terraces similar to Spain's, but on taller mountains and occupied by gnarled, clipped, clove-like stubs of grapevines, rather than the vast orchards of a few days ago.

I admit that I felt a bit ominous about FRANCE, where there's nary a Freedom Fry and the language is high-pitched and too cute, or at the very least too nasal.
So they say, and so, in spite of my striving toward open-mindedness and my yearning for time spent submerged in other countries, to see a country as a person rather than the child of a fairly anti-French America, I ended up wondering, somewhat privately, somewhat unconsciously, oh, I wonder if I will like them.

My thoughts, private and public, after my third night in the country:


Mediteranean France is a land of smiling people who greet you and use so many hand gestures and apprciate your feeble attempts at the language. There is a lot of pride here, as witnessed in the hitched ride that we were graced with that took us from Catalan to the French mountains, as our driver's daughter asked isn't French beautiful? And as witnessed at the market that we attended this morning in Ceret, where people were so proud of their sausages (dappled with pistachios, dyed with blueberries, wrapped carefully, hanging amazingly) and cheese (in the widest of wheels) and dates (still attatched to branches) is wonderful to be in a place where food and drink are so honored and loved, and where people look so healthy amongst the butter and red wine, foie gras et cetera. (Not making any political statement on foie gras at the moment, but mentioning it because I did indeed see a lot of it at various stalls this morning.)

This evening we did indeed have our first discussion involving anti-Americanism that was very impenetrable and fairly uneducated on the side of the anti-American. But! The arguement was not even given by a French person! Rather, it was from a British ex-pat (whom we happen to be working for. And whom is very educated and interesting.).

I think that Matt, myself, and Libby, another WWOOFing American who is staying here as well, held our own quite well in a discussion that was impossible to progress in. [Here I wrote a lengthy diatribe on the breed of anti-Americanism discussed but deleted it due to ramblings and thoughts that could probably be better fleshed out at another time of day.]

I have to admit that this evening made me very homesick for friends and family who are American, who are very beautiful and thoughtful and imperfect and loving and loved. I don't quite agree with Obama when he says that we should not change the way we are, because I think that everybody has something (if not many things) that could, and often times ought to, be changed. America certainly has a lot to improve upon. But I do think that there's so much that is wonderful in the US, and many things that have plenty of potential. We ought to "keep up the good work," as Garrison Keillor is fond of saying. Everyone should. What we shouldn't do is think that we've got it all figured out, or proclaim that we are the best. Neither Matt, Libby, or I are proclaiming anything of the sort - indeed, we are in Europe because we believe that there is much that we can learn from the traditions and cultures presnt here. Some people assume that all Americans are that way, though. Of course, some Americans believe the same thing about the French.

Next time that I write I would love to share something of travel and the weight of a pack and the taste of our travel food. Until then, bon soir, and see you soon. Thanks for reading and for all of the kind comments left regarding the journey and the writing.



  1. Ohhhh my dearest Jenny, I feel you hardcore. Living in a house full of Europeans is extremely enriching but interpersonally a little awkward because its hardly a secret that everyone Hates the U.S. Yesterday someone asked me how it FEELS to be the American. I had to answer 'bad' because by pure virtue of the conversation I was being called an ass. It's hard to defend your country when your crappy I-can't-even-speak-a-second-language Spanish is its own cheek-reddening example of much we suck. ssiiigghhh
    At least Garrison Keillor believes in me.

  2. Ah, I know Jessica's words only too well. But, on a separate note, Anthony Bourdain says that ducks who become used for foie gras at least have the dignified honor of one day becoming a hardcore delicacy. So...I don't know.

    At any rate, it sounds like you're having a lovely lovely experience already and I wish I were there!

  3. awesome blog! comming to you from Mount Mary. Have seen this and your first blog. Will keep following, have a wonderful time.

  4. Jenni, did your English friend talk about the obsession Americans have with bosoms? (I do hope you get the joke!)

    Love you!