Strike. Dance. Rise.

2012 has been a significant year for women.

More women than ever are now in the US Congress.

The French government is now formed with as many women as men.

A woman has been elected president in South Korea.

More empowered women in real life pushed writers, film directors and actresses to create stronger female characters.

2012 has been a significant year for women.

Or so we thought.

Fourteen-year-old Pakistani Malala shot and severely injured for wanted to attend school.

Dozens of Afghan girls beaten for the same reason.

In our so-called developed countries countless women also beaten, sexually abused and raped just for being women.

The death today of a twenty-three-year old Indian woman gang-raped is ending the year in a very tragic and unacceptable way for women.

Anger, outrage and profound desire for change are necessary to end violence against women.

I don’t know for you, but I’ve always felt isolated and powerless facing such a daunting task.

As always in life, numbers act as a wake-up call.

One woman out of three will be assaulted, beaten, or raped in her lifetime.

Yes, you read it correctly. One out of three.

It only means that we can only know one, right? Yes, even if she hasn’t told you, you can only know one.

Last year my seventeen-year-old daughter and I went to the play The Vagina Monologues.

I had seen the play in Paris many years ago, way before I got children, and it was even more meaningful to listen to the monologues and watch the performers with a teenager than it had been when I went, young and alone.

At the end of the play, one of the organizers told us about One Billion Rising.

A worldwide day of strike, dance and rise to protest the unacceptable violence against half of the population of our planet sounded like a cool and yet very powerful goal.

As always in life, it is easier to do something when we aren’t alone.

Imagine! One Billion women, up and dancing! Because of course, women, source of life and so resilient, can only chose to dance to say ENOUGH.

Last year, after the play, I could only be certain that on February 14, 2013 I would be part of One Billion Rising. But it was last year. I also realized that it would be on Valentine’s Day. Not that it would be an obstacle. Au contraire. I never found the idea to celebrate love on a specific day very meaningful. My husband says that for him Valentine’s Day is every day but on February 14. Don’t you like that?

When today I read about the young Indian woman, sadness, anger, but also desire to act filled me and I remembered of One Billion Rising. And I decided to join the movement. And you know what? I think it is great that of all dates the organizers picked February 14.

The One Billion Rising website is full of tips, of big names and small names of people who care and get involved. There is even a map and directions for how to find a local event.

And maybe, if like me, you live a little bit too far to a major event, you will be alone on One Billion Rising Day.

But it shouldn’t stop us to dance, right?

We will dance in our gardens or parks, on our decks or small balconies, in our dens or kitchens, even on our sofas or beds.

No matter where, no matter how.

We will Strike. We will Dance. We will Rise.

For One Woman out of Three.

Merry Christmas and Joyeux Noël!

We survived the end of the world and we will hopefully survive the end of the year.

Devastating natural catastrophes and horrifying shootings have defined 2012 in the US.

Despite their dramatic and long-lasting consequences on too many people, the holiday lights and music, the parties with friends and family, and even the most outrageous decorations – today I saw countless cars with reindeers’ antlers and red noses – remind me of the unique American disposition for rituals and celebrations.

Whatever surprised me in 1990, when I landed in California two days before Christmas, is now part of my life.

Okay, I’m sure I will never get a pair of antlers and a red nose for my car, but holiday music from Sirius XM makes my commutes more festive.

I won’t wear a red sweatshirt with a Santa Claus embroidered on the front and I won’t pin a brooch imitating a candy cane on the lapel of my jacket, but now I hung socks in the staircase and a wreath at my front door.

I won’t eat ham but a goose on Christmas day. I will skip the French oysters but – hush don’t tell anyone – I will have foie gras on Christmas Eve.

In 1990, I unsuccessfully searched for chestnuts, which in my native country are traditionally cooked around the turkey or goose. Now Trader Joe’s imports them from Canada.

I still favor a Bûche de Noël to minced pies, fruitcakes and spice cookies, but anything with pumpkin won my tastebuds. Eggnog won’t ever replace my red wine, but I love s’mores around the firepit.

The Père Noël and Santa Claus are good friends in my home. One mails his gifts from France while the other one shops mostly online.

So from the bottom of my heart I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Joyeux Noël!

 

Merry Christmas!

2012 touche à sa fin. Nous avons survécu la fin du monde.

Pour beaucoup, les fêtes de ce mois de Décembre ont un sens religieux. Pour d’autres, l’occasion de passer plus de temps en famille et entre amis.

Quant à moi, depuis 1990, la fin d’année symbolisera toujours l’anniversaire de mon arrivée aux USA.
L’éblouissement de mon premier Noël américain est loin, mais ce matin alors que je faisais mes courses pour le réveillon, le souvenir de mes toutes premières impressions est revenu à ma mémoire.

Les français se sont mis aussi à décorer leurs maisons, mais en 1990 aucun ne le faisait. Et les maisons dans la baie de San Francisco illustraient à la perfection l’attrait américain pour les rites et les célébrations.

Au cours des années, je me suis habituée à recevoir des cartes de vœux dès le début du mois de décembre, à voir la couleur rouge portée par beaucoup plus de gens dès Thanksgiving. Du bonnet imitation velours rouge – en réalité en polyester – bordé de fausse fourrure blanche, aux broches imitant les candy canes, des pulls et sweatshirts brodés de paysages enneigés aux voitures arborant des antennes brunes de chaque côté du toit et un museau rouge sur le moteur pour imiter les rênes du Père Noël, l’Amérique adore la déco un peu ringarde et ne s’en cache pas.

Alors de mon coin de Californie, je vous envoie un peu de cette ambiance un peu trop kitch pour nos goûts français mais tellement irrésistible.

Merry Christmas !

End Gun Violence

In the midst of the holiday season, all of America is pausing, brokenhearted by unspeakable acts of violence.

When President Obama addressed the nation on Friday, his emotion was palpable and we saw him as a father before a president. He wept with us. His pain, sincere and moving, made him one of us.

Yesterday our President visited the victims’ families in Newtown and later spoke in the High School’s gymnasium. Although obviously saddened, his voice was firm and his eyes dry. In the second part of his speech, he approached the real reason why this horrific event happened. Our nation’s passionate relationship with weapons has killed so many innocent people over the last four years that we can’t continue to ignore it.

It is time for change. Not for another governmental commission that will endlessly discuss the pros and cons of gun control.

There are no pros.

It is time to do everything we can to forbid civilians to purchase guns and weapons so destructive that they should never be available to them.

Visit the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. You can send your condoleances to the victims’ families and sign the petition We Are Better Than This.

ASSEZ!

Une fois de plus les Etats Unis pleurent la mort d’innocents assassinés par des armes qu’aucun civil ne devrait jamais pouvoir se procurer. Le débat sur les armes ne quitte jamais vraiment le discours politique aux US.

Cependant il a été l’un des grands absents de la dernière campagne électorale. Président  Obama lors de sa première campagne présidentielle avait promis de réinstaurer le ban sur les armes de destruction – le ban a duré dix ans – mais il n’en a rien fait.

Hier dans un discours adressé aux familles et amis des victimes, aux résidents de Newtown mais aussi à l’ensemble de la nation, Président Obama a réouvert la possibilité de nouveaux débats pour interdire la vente d’armes militaires aux particuliers.

De combien d’enfants massacrés avons-nous encore besoin pour comprendre que nous ne voulons pas d’une commission, de discussions ou de débats ?

Quand nos politiciens seront-ils capables de se passer du super pouvoir des lobbyistes ?

Quand comprendrons nous que le deuxième amendement n’est pas une porte ouverte sur tous les magasins de vente d’armes ?

Assez!

Réinstaurez la loi Brady passée par Président Clinton en 1993, grâce au travail sans relâche de Sarah et James Brady – blessé durant la tentative d’assassinat de Ronald Reagan en 1981 et resté paralysé pour le restant de ses jours.

M. Obama, montrez-nous que vous pouvez tenir une de vos promesses.

Bonnes Fêtes de Fin d’Année

La saison des fêtes bat son plein aux US. Sapins, lumières, vitrines décorées, cartes de vœux, festivals et parades de Noël, il y en a pour tous les goûts, et même un peu plus.

D’année en année, mes habitudes françaises ont cédé le pas aux traditions américaines. Mais je reconnais en délaisser certaines. C’est le plus de l’immigration. On peut créer ses propres traditions en empruntant au pays natal et au pays d’adoption.

De l’Amérique, j’emprunte la musique de fête qui passe en continu dans les magasins dès le lendemain de Thanksgiving – malheureusement de plus en plut tôt d’année en année. Quand personne n’est avec moi, je chante à tue tête Mon Beau Sapin et Jingle Bells. Avec mes enfants, je mets un bémol.

J’emprunte à l’Amérique la couleur rouge qui donne bonne mine en hiver, le chocolat chaud, marshmallow, et crème chantilly – juste en un peu plus modéré que la moyenne nationale – la cannelle, le gingembre, et la noix de cajou, symboles de la cuisine de fin d’année.

J’emprunte l’expression « Happy Holidays » ou « Happy Holiday Season » qui met du baume au cœur quand c’est dit, comme ici, avec le sourire.

J’emprunte les chaussettes rouges, bordées de fausse fourrure blanche, que j’accroche dans l’escalier et dans lesquelles je glisse des petites surprises pour chacun des membres de ma famille.

J’emprunte à la France ces recettes que je lis et relis pour me mettre l’eau à la bouche et chercher avant qu’il ne soit trop tard les ingrédients plus difficiles à trouver (châtaignes et boudin blanc, par exemple).

J’emprunte à la France son coté dernière minute et n’achète  jamais un seul cadeau de Noël avant le mois de décembre.

J’emprunte à la France ses chaussures au pied du sapin.

Et voilà, j’ai mon Noël franco-américain.

Un peu plus français peut-être puisqu’aucun de mes enfants ne parle de Santa mais du Père Noël.

Comme quoi on peut les mettre au monde à des milliers de kilomètres de sa terre natale et leur transmettre un petit quelque chose de son enfance.

Bonne fêtes à tous !

Happy Holidays !

Happy Holiday Season!

When I moved to the US, one of the first things that surprised me the most was how the Americans turned the holiday season into such a show. Fascinating, exciting, and a little overwhelming to observe.

Now that I am an almost full-blooded American, I’m used to see lights and trees up right after Thanksgiving. Last year, I even decorated during Thanksgiving weekend as well.

This year, however, I’m way behind according to American standards.  I got excuses.

First, the weather here in California has been abnormally warm for the longest time. We got this three-day storm, which brought rain, but temperatures are still hovering in the upper 60s. Doesn’t put me in the right mood to go pick a Christmas tree.

Then, there was NaNoWriMo. Honestly, this program sucks lots of energy. I must confess that I didn’t write 50 000 words – it was my personal goal. I went as far as 32 000, and I console myself with the idea that the first 10 000 words aren’t bad.

My draft isn’t where I was hoping it would be, but I have built a set of characters I like.

I read once an interview from the great Dick Jackson. “True voice,” he said. “Comes from somewhere inside the writer or inside the character.”

We all agree, of course. It makes sense and it seems easy to do, right?

Through the month of November, I worked hard at giving each and every of my characters a voice, because I found out that, more than the writer’s voice, the characters the writers created gave a voice to the books I admire most.

Take John Green, for example.  In my opinion, he excels at giving each and every of his characters a definite, unforgettable personality so they can stand on their own.

It takes persistence to execute this kind of thing.

So this is how I spent November.

Now that December has started, I already know it will be a less productive month. School ends in two weeks and three of my four children will be home all day long. Great when you want to write true to life dialogues. Not so good for the mom I am, since I find it hard to stay away from the fun.

Happy Holiday Season!

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