Tractopelle and Goings on Around here
Depaysement: A Change of Scenery unlocks inspiration

N'importe quoi: Deported from France, Kristin dusts herself off and imagines the ideal career.

Kristi driving ape truck
A clue as to where I really want to be these days: back in this ape triporteur with strawberries and avocados from my French garden in the truck bed and my dog by my side!

If you are new to this list, a warm and hearty bienvenue! When French Word-A-Day began in 2002 it ran 7 days a week--then 5, then 3, then 2. Now we are teetering at one post (and it is a re-run). Dear Lord, what is next? I don't know but I will hang on for the ride and I hope you will too! Meantime, today's essay looks back on a similar time of questioning.... Thank you very much for reading and for sharing!

TODAY'S EXPRESSION: n'importe quoi

     : nonsense

Hear Jean-Marc pronounce today's expression
=> Download MP3 or Wav

N'importe quoi. C'est du grand n'importe quoi.
Nonsense. It's rubbish.


by Kristin Espinasse


In 1993 a fed-up Frenchman bought me a one-way ticket out of his country. Jean-Marc and I tried living together, but all that chemistry fizzled out after merging two cultures under one Mediterranean roof. He didn’t understand my stock of peanut butter (the French don’t hoard food), and I didn’t understand why his mother was still ironing his shirts.


Back home in Arizona, there was no time to nurse my wounds. I needed a job! But I couldn’t go back to being a receptionist or to working in retail, and after spilling coffee in a customer’s lap waitressing was off limits.
Self-employment became my goal. Only by being one's own boss could one soar! Only by calling the shots could one skip out early for a matinee and lose herself in French life (on the big screen this time around). But which mêtier allowed for such freedom?

Girl Friday! I could be my own girl Friday! GFs got to do many things. Variety would be the spice of this new (if newly failed) life. I had all I needed to jumpstart this career: a used car and the adrenaline of a scorned lover! But what to list on my Girl Friday menu? What was I capable of besides getting kicked out of France?

Voyons… I could type a report. Wash a car. Walk a dog. I could even do makeovers--if make-up were not part of my love story’s demise… (On our second date, in Roussillon, Jean-Marc painted my face with the colorful ochre earth. But instead of delighting in the romantic gesture, I self-consciously touched up my make-up.) No use dwelling on past mistakes! My GF venture needed a name--something French, non?  

N'importe Quoi”--now there was a catchy title for a service-oriented company! But was it prudent? Could “Anything At All” be misconstrued?

Onward! I could just see my business card: The background, a colorful scene from French life and, centered, the title N'importe Quoi. And there, lower right, my name above Your Girl Friday.

Business-cardSome girl Friday! I never even managed to run my first errand, to the printer’s. Instead, I grabbed an opening in a shipping department, where I stuffed boxes full of Styrofoam as my heart fell to pieces.

It would take years to grasp the meaning of n'importe quoi. Today I sit here at my desk, a self-employed writer, shaking my head at the would-be Girl Friday of yesteryear. What a pity it would have been to call my venture "Nonsense" or to offer anything at all when destiny was calling me to follow my dream.

I called Jean-Marc to inform him I was returning to France. He then surprised us both inviting me to share his life for better or for worse. And with a little mud on my face nowadays--the good French earth--I’m finally comfortable enough in my own skin to share myself with him.

Thanks to the editorial at France Today for printing this story and for offering the catchy subtitle seen in the subject line of this post. 

adieu = farewell, literally "until God"
le métier = profession
voyons = let's see
n’importe quoi = nonsense


Everything in this bowl came from our permaculture garden--including the arugula! Each morning it is a great pleasure to hunt for breakfast and to plan which bushes and trees will be added to the edible landscape. What ambition I once felt for publishing, seems to be dissipating into the balmy air above my strawberry patch! So, dear reader,  I will carefully ride out this moment, preferably in that cute orange truck you saw in the opening to this post =-)


His protective T-shirt reads: "Save Water. Drink rosé."

Smokey is doing fine after the removal of a second cancerous lump (un mastocytome or mast cell tumor). The first was on his thigh, the second near his shoulder. He is his same old self and we will continue to give him belly rubs, shoulder massages, and pats all around to keep on top of these horrible growths.

Words in a french lifeWORDS IN A FRENCH LIFE
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A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety