Lost and Found
Bookworms and bibliophiles love books. Foodies love food. Oenophiles love wine. As a logophile, I love words. Can you guess my favorite word of all? I’ll give you a clue: at the age of 21 this Colorado girl found love in Madagascar. And then as a result of distance (oceans and continents), time and circumstance, it became a love lost. 12 years later I found it again. Retrouvaille definition: In French “trouver” is to find something. Add the prefix “re” and you “re-find” something. Retrouvaille thus refers to a friend that you have found again, but not just any friend, a bosom-buddy, a BFF, someone who “get’s you.” In English, we find the words to represent these close friendships, but we lack any truly “retrouvaille feeling words” in English, which means that we’ll just have to use the French!
Logophiles love words.
Yep, that’s me. I am a logophile.
As a logophile, I can quickly get excited about the etymology or the origin of a word. I am fascinated by words that exist in one language, but not in others. And, I adore words that have slightly different nuances. As a student of anthropology, I also tend to note how vocabulary reflects the differences between languages and cultures. It’s an inside game for me to modify my word choice to suit my audience, be they American, English, South African or Australian. My thesaurus is a reliable and dog-eared friend. Tragically, my love of words nearly spelled death for my career as a writer. Thankfully, the experience of retrouvaille presented me with the time and the situation to reflect and find my path home, back to the written word.
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How my logophilia prevented me from becoming a writer.
Logophilia & Lover’s Quarrels
As a logophile, I confess that I am apt to get a bit snippy over how people use words. The connotation of a word is critical! If someone (up there) is keeping a tally, the record indeed shows that I am willing to defend the virtue and intent of my word choice. Disagreements of course often stem from misunderstanding — if only everyone paid attention to word choice, perhaps we’d have world peace!
Logophilia comes into play in my life as I search for words to express the perfect meaning or make an underhanded joke (or insult). I am also concerned with the implications and connotations of words. Contextual intersectionality, for example, is an excellent example of how word choice can help us to acknowledge or deny another person’s experience. By definition a logophile, of course, loves words. The root word of “logo” hailing from the Greek verb “to love.”
Logophilia definition: By definition a logophile, of course, loves words. The root word of “logo” hailing from the Greek verb “to love.” Logophilia is then the act of loving words, but also the act of wordplay. When you love words, you can’t help but also play with them!
One of the reasons I love my husband so much is that he also loves words and meaning. He is particularly fond of word jokes with subtle sexual undertones. He too adores riddles that trick people (usually our kids) into saying or doing something silly. One of his favorites is a line of questioning about Napolean’s horse that concludes with most neophytes responding that cows drink milk (not water)!
Some couples argue about finances or the kids, while our most heated and memorable disagreements often center on words. Notable debates include the following words: silly, indigenous, and mammal. Not all on the same day or even the same week mind you, and yet these were severe disagreements involving dictionaries, raised voices, and internet research.
For better or worse, my arguments with my husband over the connotation of words and appropriate vocabulary choice is not a solitary experience. I’ve been getting into trouble over words my entire life. From the time I spent a morning in the quiet room as a three-year-old, to just last week!
A Personal Retrouvaille: Me, Myself and I
Sometimes our best friend is not waiting to be found, but already inside. Rediscovering my love of writing and embracing my love of words is like rediscovering a best friend. Finding purpose at my keyboard is exhilarating. And helping others to find themselves through words and language is inspiring.
I have arrived. I am home. I might be feeling a bit precocious.
If you need to say something with words, but can’t find the right ones or are not sure what to say, ask me, I am at your service.
The Greatest Retrouvaille of All
We are not yet at the end of the story. The most noteworthy reason for my love of the word retrouvaile, is that my husband is the greatest retrouvaille of my life. We first met in 1998. I’d flown half-way around the world from Colorado to Madagascar for my semester abroad.
While in Madagascar, I lived with my husband’s family, falling in love not only with him, but with his entire family. The experience changed me forever on a spiritual and an intellectual level. But at the age of 21 I didn’t really believe in true love nor did I know how to make an international relationship work.
Fast forward 12 years and my husband decided to take a road-trip across the United States. The moment we saw each other the electricity flew. The greatest retrouvaille arrived at my front door and life forever changed. Not only did we find a way to write our own story, but the experience cracked me open in a way that continues to provide opportunities for me to grow and discover.
Do you have a retrouvaille story of your own? Are you a logohpile? Share your stories of retrouvaille or the written word below — I want to know!
From day 24 of my 2017 30 minutes a day writing challenge . . .
For better or worse, me writing for 30 minutes every day means you get to see more of me. The real me. Not just the “me” that shows up at work or on Facebook or out for a cocktail. The “me” that slaps my hand to my forehead when I discover that French ATMs go broke…
This morning I woke up grumpy. My grumpiness can likely be attributed to the fact that I slept most of the night laying on a pile of stuffed animals and a wooden floor next to my daughter’s toddler bed.
Last night marked the 4th night in a row that our little Nana woke up sometime between 2 AM and 3 AM crying inconsolably. It also marked the 14th consecutive night (not that I am counting) that she went to bed long after 9:30 PM, instead of around 7:30 PM like her peacefully sleeping, little brother. Even her big brother was in bed and asleep by 9 PM.
As veteran parents to a 9-year-old and a 13-year-old, we are not exactly sure of the cause or the solution to our 2-year-old’s sleep problems. Part of it may be personality as she is delightfully precocious. Part of it may be that she identifies more with her 9-year-old sibling than the baby, despite the fact that she is only 14 months older than the baby. And as the days go on, it is likely increasingly because she is overtired.
Ha! Novice parents often think that tiring a kid out will help them sleep. Experience will show said parents that sleep deprived small people sleep worse. Not better. Exhausting your kid to get them a good night’s rest never works (except for good physical exhaustion like swimming or hiking).The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep: Simple Solutions for Kids from Birth to 5 Years
To me, a successful weekend is one in which I feel rested by Sunday evening, I have had some good family time, and my house is tidy. Then when I get up Monday, I feel ready to go out and meet world head-on.
Not today. Not this Monday.
To start the day off, after rubbing the sleep out of my eyes and finding some matching socks, I made a few phone calls, booked an appointment with the doctor and dropped the big kid at school and our littles at the nursery. So far, so good for a sleep deprived mama.
My next destination should have been a 3 minute stop off at the ATM, but to get cash I first needed to find a parking spot.
To get cash, I must park…
France celebrates on average 5 Monday holidays between April and May. Today is not technically a holiday, but it is a Monday. And in France banks are closed on Monday.
Our region just finished Spring break, following a weekend of summer-like weather, which means the banks and the ATMs have been hit by the first wave of TOURIST SEASON. This may be my fourth year in France, but I am still American trained, and so none of these things cross my mind as I pull up to the bank. Instead, my focus is on the parking.
Our bank is across the street from a police station and a library. There is only parking on one side of the street. This means that for once, blatantly, illegal parking is a bad idea and that there is heavy competition for the existing legal parking spots. On the first pass, I go by several theoretically open spots, but none of them are appropriately sized for my rather large Ford C-max (a small car in the USA).
This is a quick photo I shot of the parking situation on my second pass. My readers from orderly and rule abiding countries: do you notice anything odd about the direction of these parked cars?
Parking in France is a nightmare …
For me, the first frustration is that the French generally don’t believe in designated parking spots and it is rare to find street parking with spots indicated by lines. Even when you find parking in which a town or business indicates parking spots with lines, compliance seems to depend upon the mood of the people parking that day. One would think that parking in a relatively rural area such as ours would be easy, but it’s not. I think parking in Paris might actually be easier because in Paris people have fear of parking police.The Essential Driving Guide for France (Essential Driving Guides in Europe)
The second irritation for an American is that it is perfectly O.K. to park against traffic. Indeed, I learned quickly when I arrived in France, that if I see a good parking spot on either side of the street, I better just park. If and when I take the time to turn my car around first, someone else will zip up, pretend not to see me maneuvering and park in the spot. The French seem to think this is perfectly normal. They also excel at avoiding all eye contact in this type of situation.
Bus Driver: The Most Difficult Job in France
Truck and bus drivers around the world have a tough job. In France, it is particularly challenging. Not only are the roads tiny, narrow, and rarely straight, but the signage is terrible and people can’t park! Indeed, I think that French bus and truck drivers would gladly give up their 10 AM glass of beer or wine in exchange for American parking rules.
In front of my son’s school, someone boldly (or naively) painted directional lines indicating legal parking zones. In practice the only place parents do not park is in the middle of the crosswalk and the handicap spot. And this is true only because there is an actual policewoman or man at drop-off and pick-up policing the crosswalk!
As a result, each morning I must not only carefully maneuver into my own parking spot, I must also often watch in silent horror at the “forced to be patient” bus driver who must navigate all the random parking and against traffic parking that relegates the two-lane street into a single lane of traffic. To compound the situation, the school busesin our area are actually tour busses: Le Basque Bondissant. In a land of tiny roads, they are HUGE.
And so the poor tour bus driver must maneuver this boat on wheels through psychotic parents who disregard all parking rules. Often the driver’s only choice is simply to block traffic until it opens up enough for the bus to pass through.
Rest assured that there is always some wayward driver in the mix that made the mistake of passing by a school on the way to work. You can identify these drivers by the whites of their eyes, the lack of children in their car, and their use of the horn. BEEP. BEEEEEEEP!!! Because honking at a school bus always…MAKES. IT. MOVE. FASTER.Rick Steves Snapshot of Basque Country
Not only do the French avoid designated parking spots, they are perfectly content parking half on and half off a curb. In front of the gate. Blocking the sidewalk. Blocking each other. Blocking you. Blocking me. I don’t think Tetris is a popular game in France.
In a car, the French seem to lose all sense of their normally acute sense of spatial awareness. In a dance club, Americans are known for lacking spatial awareness. They step on people’s toes, bump into people. It’s annoying, but I don’t spend that much time in dance clubs. I do tend to use parking on a daily basis, so accepting this lack of spatial awareness and common sense efficiency, is a daily challenge for this American.
There exist two major irritations for an American parking in France:
- The first is a lack of designated parking spots.
- The second is that people park against traffic.
So, back to the ATM…I still need my cash!
As I pull up to the ATM it looks like there are 4 open parking spots, but as I get closer, I discover that every spot is just slightly too small for my car. Instead of four randomly sized smaller spots, there should be at most three bigger spots. This is why Americans demark parking spots with lines!
Finally, on my third pass without any movement on the part of the cars already parked, I decided to take the challenge to sandwich myself into the largest of the spots. I activate my parking assist, which causes frantic beeping to emanate from my dash as I come within centimeters of the cars in front and behind me. If I was an actual French person, maybe this wouldn’t be so bothersome for me, because I’d just gently “bump” my way into the spot.
My American friends, you would faint at the number of times I have seen French people bump and squeeze their car into a parking spot, that is what bumpers are for, after all, right?
Finally, I am parked. Happy sigh. I get out and I walk over to the ATM. I insert my card. And I get a message “this ATM is temporarily out of service/funds.”
French ATMs go BROKE
The message is actually in French of course, but that is pretty much the direct translation. So, in France, people don’t work on Sunday. Banks are closed on Monday. And, following four weeks of Spring breaks, finishing up with spring break in the Bordeaux School Zone, there has been an increase in the number of tourists in the area.
What does this mean? The ATM has RUN OUT OF MONEY. The ATM is broke. This is not the first time this has happened to me.
Sometimes French ATMs simply run out of 20 Euro notes and withdrawals must be made in denominations of 50 Euros. Sometimes like today, the machine just run flat out of funds. My French ATM is broke. And, 9:30 AM on a Monday is too early to expect a refill. Doh! I successfully parked my car, but I still don’t have any money!Bébé Day by Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting
So, where does a French ATM go on Holiday?
It doesn’t. It has a staycation because it is BROKE!
The good news is that I did make a pot of coffee and so now my rant is over. I have coffee, the sun is out. And, I feel gloriously better. Thank you.