Wednesday, June 30, 2010


[Translation: Twilight]

Half of the whole world went mad when the Twilight Saga came out. Now that the movie, Eclipse, is here, the world once again is being tortured by screaming, crying, annoying, gaga over Rob Pattinson, little girls.

Of course, I would be hypocritical if I did not say that I do enjoy the movies, and I have had many thoughts as to what I would do if I met the Twilight cast.

(by the way, if you cannot read what I am saying in the cartoon, I am saying "Bitch! He's mine! Grr!").

For those of you not familiar with Twilight, it is a story about a vampire falling in love with a human. It is your typical forbidden love story, except that in this story the vampires sparkle, and they have options as to how they want to die. It can be through a vampire mafia, a pack of wolves, or having others rip your head off and burning it. How delightful!

(The Puppet version of Twilight)

Of course I prefer the vampires burning to death in the sun, but burning handsome vampires in the sun is a crime, and so they must sparkle.

Don't get me wrong I like Twilight, but the fanaticism has got to STOP. I cannot even go to the movie theaters this week due to the fact that millions of little girls will be there, screaming their lungs out. I would rather walk on hot stones rather than to hear little girls crying over a fictional character, but that's just me (other people would probably cut their own ears off).

Eventually, this Eclipse madness will fade till they make the next movie *gulp*. So for now I should just avoid the movie theaters, and prepare myself for the next Twilight movie...

Maybe I'll go to Tahiti.

What would you do?

Hanny the coffee bean

(Disclaimer: Although it was put together by me, I did not draw any of the cartoons. The cartoons come from and the video of course comes from youtube, made by SpookyDan).

Drowning in a Glass of Water

After the joy I experienced yesterday in learning that I will go back to France, I realize now what a fool I've been to worry so much about nothing. The thought of me not returning to France petrified and depressed me to the point that I was frightened to join the world around me.

There is a saying in Spanish: "Te estas ahogando en un vaso de agua." Literally, it translates to "you are drowning yourself in a glass of water." I equate this to "making mountains out of molehills." Beaucoup de bruit pour rien.

In other words, I was sweating the small stuff. Today, as I ran some errands, I heard on the radio Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds."

Don't worry
About a thing
'Cause every little thing is gonna be all right

I have to keep that in mind more often.

(I promise I'll have a "real" post tomorrow...)
Barb the French Bean

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Just a minor update: I'M GOING BACK TO FRANCE!!!

I just received a response from the Académie de Dijon, and I've been accepted to work again!

I'm so happy that I am in tears!

...And now starts the paperwork process. Yay.

Barb the French Bean

Je Veux un Vélo

I want a bike. It's been years since I last rode one and now I want to have one again. Even though Miami has a climate that makes the activity of bike-riding quite torturous, I still want a bike. It's fun. Period.

In fact, I have craved wanting to relive my childhood past time for a good year or so. Today, I woke up with the same desire.

I learned how to ride the "grown-up" bike when I was nine. My elementary school P.E. classes started to make us learn bike safety rules and whatnot. I did not do well in my class because I did not know how to ride. As my classmates chased and crashed into each other, thus giving our P.E. teacher premature gray hair, I clung for dear life to the two-wheeled transportation device. I was clearly a little rusty from my trike years and I concluded that needed to do some more practice on my own time if I wanted to do well in the class. I happily told my parents that evening that I wanted to have my own bike because it was fun. So my father rushed to K-Mart and purchased a bright pink helmet and a bike. The bike in question came without training wheels.

I learned to ride within two days.

My father's highly effective method of teaching featured me peddling quickly off the slanted driveway in front of our house to make me careen precariously into the safety of oncoming neighborhood traffic.

Oh, yeah. You'd better believe I learned fast. This wasn't just merely "sink or swim"; it was "ride or die." By the way, I don't recommend this teaching strategy for parents today, lest you want to have child services raid your behind to court.

When I was in France, I did not ride a bike. Not once. It's not like the French are short on bike supplies. Paris has Vélib, a public system that allows people to rent bicycles in time intervals. So does Lyon. Even Dijon jumped on the bicycle bandwagon; their system is called Vélodi. I rarely saw a Dijonnais peddling away, however. What for if we have an excellent bus system that is prone to the occasional strike? I almost got the chance to mount on one. When visiting my ex-boyfriend's village for one week-end, we had marvelous plans of trekking up the hills in the Ain, one of the eight départements which divide the Rhône-Alpes région.

Rain spoiled our potential excursion.

I will get back on a bike someday. But first I have to purchase one.

Barb the French Bean

Monday, June 28, 2010

Blogging = Sanity

Nowadays, blogging has become something sensational to do among those who like to write (and in certain cases make money). Of course I don't do it for money...

Blogging started for me when my heart was viciously torn into pieces by someone very dear to me, but the more I blogged the more I started to realize how much it was helping me heal.

Then I started to think about what would happen if I didn't blog...What would happen to me? Did blogging really help me? or am I just hallucinating and it wouldn't have made a difference?

My mind went berserk trying to imagine life without blogging (of course I have other things to do, but still blogging helps me keep sanity).

If I didn't blog....

  • I think a volcano would erupt hitting only my house till every trace of my existence disappeared.

  • I would probably come home after a long day, find myself all alone, and roll myself into a ball rocking back and forth.

  • I would be roaming outside probably asking for money (though I do believe I'll eventually get to that).

(They don't all have to have a picture).

  • Wild boars will appear out of nowhere and attack me because they can smell the insanity, that I will possess for not blogging.
(Nope...still no picture...).

  • I would sleep drive from lack of sanity or some sort of mental disorder...Trust me if my driving is already bad awake, imagine just how bad it would be to sleep drive. (for those of you who are not familiar with sleep driving, it is usually caused by some mental disorder).

(Too lazy to make a picture...).

  • I would probably become a vicious person, whose sole purpose in life is to live with the wolves.

  • I would get so bored that it would make me walk around the nearby forest; getting bit by a rabid squirrel, and turning me into a rabid human. Eventually I will spread the rabies causing the end of human civilization.

Blogging has saved millions and millions of lives...It has saved a lot of people from making humiliating mistakes, stalking ex's, going out and being socially awkward, running around in the nude, getting drunk and later mooning your parents-in-law etc...(of course when I say "a lot of people" I mean me).

If it weren't for blogging, I would be a danger to human civilization. Luckily, human civilization is free from rabies as long as I keep blogging.

So did blogging make a difference? I think so...I saved the world from my insanity and I am happily sane.

Hanny The Coffee Bean

Should I become a Mail-Order Bride?

Seeing as how there are only a few legal ways to remain in France, I should try experimenting. As a foreigner, I could get a visa if I were to study abroad or if I worked over there. I could obtain residency after five years.

I could also get married. A marriage would remove the tedious, messy paperwork process of visa and university applications and would grant me automatic residency. That is why I would like to try to be a mail-order bride. Hey, if it works for girls in other countries, why shouldn't it work for me?

Think of the potential! It's a Win-Win situation for me: I'd get to live in France and I'd get a French husband.

The market between Frenchmen with an American counterpart still needs to be tapped into, so I may have a chance...

But how would I advertise myself? I realize that, given my physical tendencies to be overweight, I have a lot of competition from elegant and graceful Frenchgirls who pay the keenest attention to every detail in their appearance. When I first got to Dijon, I was stunned by how lovely all of the Dijonnaises seemed to be. Next to them, I felt like a bloated slob. And I looked like Spongebob Squarepants. And what Frenchman wouldn't want to marry a foreigner who has a braying laugh?

No. I need to say something that entices them. I need to talk about something that they find absolutely irresistible. I need to talk

They love their food.

"Vous êtes pour moi? Are you for me?

Because I am for you!


Intelligent, cultured, sophisticated brown-haired, dark-eyed American seeks her Prince Charmant. Is partial to the odd sampling of escargots and Muscat de Rivesaltes (though not simultaneously). Has a fond passion of taking long walks in the Dijonnais hills and gathering daffodils in the Rhône-Alpes. Is not such a terrible cook and rarely burns things. Loves to try new recipes that make you feel at home. Can whip up the most awesome madeleines you will ever eat. Also knows Cuban and Colombian cuisine! Miam-miam!

She's almost like a Française, but not quite.

Weight and height will be given upon request."

Oh, yeah. What Frenchman wouldn't snatch up a prize like me in a heartbeat?

Barb the French Bean

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Musical 180

I finally got the dreaded "Studio" out of my mind.

*wild applause and raucous cheers*

On this quiet Sunday, I craved to listen to one of my favorite French singers, Francis Cabrel. When I had a stable source of income, a good portion of my earnings were traded on to purchase various French CDs. I gladly invested in perfecting my pronunciation by singing along to Hélène Ségara, Mylène Farmer, even Pascal Obispo. But Francis Cabrel stuck out among them.

"I come from heaven and the stars among it don't speak of anything but you, from a musician who makes his hands play on a morsel of wood..."

Early in my arrival in Dijon, I overheard one of my room mates listening to her playlist of songs. I instantly recognized "Petite Marie." I got excited. It was the first time I heard his voice in France. It was no longer in my room in my Miami!

"Ah, that's Francis Cabrel," I exclaimed.

"Ben, oui, bien sûr. Who else could you think it was?" To the French, it's obvious who he is.

I also love "Je l'aime à mourir." It's a declaration of a man's unyielding love and admiration for the woman who raises him.

For this man, you can destroy everything that you want; she only needs to open the space of her arms to rebuild it all. She builds bridges between them and heaven; they cross them every time she doesn't want to sleep. She dances in the middle of the forests she paints. She must have fought every war to be as strong as she is today. She must have fought every war of life as well as love's.

(Yes, behold Cabrel in his '70s Jesus glory!)

Barb the French Bean

Disclaimer: neither the videos nor Cabrel's lyrics is mine.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Getting Back on Track...Again

Tonight, I met up with a very good friend from my high school years. We had not seen each other in close to two years, so we decided to make our reunion a special occasion.

We went out to eat.

Ever since I got back from France, I have been progressively losing some weight (nearly 1 or 2 pounds a week). The size of my stomach is a good indicator of my success: I can barely eat super-duper extra extra extra quadruple large American portions. I'm not talking about McDonald's. My friend and I went to eat at a franchise of a popular chain of Cuban restaurants called La Carreta (Spanish for "the cart"). My teeth bit into the chewy heaven that is the medianoche sandwich with a side of fries. I finished with a "cortadito," a small cup of Cuban espresso with milk.

Hours later, I still feel this hefty meal sitting in my stomach. Ugh.

Tomorrow, I will eat better.

Of course, that is what I keep telling myself. Will I eat better is a different story. I notice that every few days or so, I slip up. I may miss an exercise session due to being completely blasé. I may purchase a treat that I shouldn't have. This week, for instance, I bought a box of Little Debbie Swiss Rolls. I have not eaten this icon of my childhood since I graduated from high school (almost 6 years). I credit my lack of wanting to munch on the spongy cakes simply because I have not craved them often. Even if I did get the urge to eat some, I resisted.

I remember once, last year, I had a job that was nearly a one hour drive from my house. For one entire month, I wanted to have a Swiss Roll. My mouth salivated at the thought of eating just one. As some sort of cruel punishment for these sinful thoughts, one day, after 5:00, I found myself driving behind a Little Debbie delivery truck for half an hour in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Debbie kept staring back at me. Teasing me with her stupid smile. The Shirley Temple ripoff almost seemed to say "If you buy my Swiss Rolls, then you can be as happy as I am!"

"Die, bitch," I thought.

Even then, I didn't buy them. I caved in this week. I purchased my first box of Swiss Rolls in nearly six years and eventually ate the wrapped pairs of caloric goodness in three days. Now I no longer crave them.

But I can't keep this up. I don't want to end up like this:

I have almost been like that in the past. I've even lost 80 pounds at one point. Then I gained back 50. Now, I want to lose 40 kilos (88 pounds).

When it comes to dieting, I view Sundays as my "Fresh Start" day. Sunday allows me to have the peaceful reflection that a hectic Monday robs from me. I remind myself that what I want to achieve is not just a diet. I need an overall change in lifestyle. That includes the way I eat.

I come from a family that equates food to love. If you refuse seconds, it is viewed as a personal blow.

The conversations between my mother and my childhood self often went like this:

Woe be unto you should you deny the woman carrying a large wooden spoon to feed you. However, I'm older now. I can prepare my own meals.
Realistically, my goal will probably take between one or two years to accomplish. I can do it.
Tomorrow is a Fresh Start. Again.
Barb the French Bean

Friday, June 25, 2010

Merci Beaucoup!

To all of you who read our blog: Thank you so much! It means so much to us...

Barb the French Bean

Make the Yo-Yo Stop!

43 days have passed since I left France.

...Saying that makes me feel like some poor addict who counts and takes each day at a time. No. I sound more like someone who pathetically logs about his travels while he wanders lost in some foreign land.

Day 43: I cannot take it anymore. My body craves the wonderful fromages of Caprice des dieux and Le Régal de Bourgogne. My lips tremble when I barely remember the creamy heaven that once graced across my tongue. I have no choice: I must make due with some Boursin that I scavenged at Costco.

I admit that, for these past few days, my emotions have shifted from "On top of the World" ... "Crushed under a Boulder."

Life happens. Things occur. My feelings change.

I keep missing certain people. I feel betrayed by others. I drink my coffee. I walk in the sunshine. I missed a call on my cellphone. I chat with my friends. I go to the beach. I hear the birds sing outside. My ex wants to replace me with someone else. I'm angry at him. But I also want to comfort him when the girl he liked turned him down...

Ugh. My mood changes several times a day. Up and down. Up and down. My heart winds in a never-ending Yo-Yo effect.

When I feel depressed, I feel trapped within my own body.

I also have the power to emancipate myself.

Another day begins. I wash my hair. I put mousse in it. I put on my make-up. I spray on my Kenzo Amour perfume on my clothes.

I feel better already. I am grateful for the life I have. I am happy to be alive.

And so my day begins...

Barb the French Bean

Thursday, June 24, 2010


This Post is not perverted AT ALL.

Being a Psch. major is very interesting, especially when you start learning new terminology. Even though we do get a lot of reading assignments and can be very tedious, you will always find something odd.

Like always, I was in class ready for another lecture about some crazy theorist with a bad upbringing. At times, I tend to space out, but only when my professor goes on and on about a certain theorist, who is actually normal.

As I was musing about going to my kick-boxing class, I suddenly heard the word "Musturbation".
Bewildered by what my professor had said, I started to crack up in silence only to later be joined by my classmates.

"Did you mean masturbation?" asked one of the students, as everyone kept laughing. "No, I said musturbation," said my professor amused by everyone's reaction.

The professor started to explain that musturbation was a word that Albert Ellis, the founder of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, would use to refer to someone who has a destructive idea that their needs and expectations MUST be met.

Well after I got out of that class, I decided to use the new word.

Of course, since not everyone is going to get the humor of it, I decided to explain it to my roomate, and then try to use it around her.

Even then, it still sounds wrong. No matter how many times I explain it.

- Hanny The Coffee Bean

Yeah. It's That Bad.

WARNING: This post features a highly earwormable song. Proceed with extreme caution.

On Tuesday night, I watched the intellectually stimulating America's Got Talent. I never imagined that I would soon come to regret that decision.

One of the auditioners, a rather charming woman named Sponjetta Parrish, claimed to be a songwriter and performed something that she had composed. It turns out that she is not such an exceptional singer, nor that her song, "Studio," has the most profound lyrics; the buzzers inevitably sounded. Yet what I loved about her appearance was how the host, Nick Cannon, came to the rescue and started dancing to the song. The audience that first booed started laughing and dancing, encouraging the poor chanteuse. The judges were still unimpressed, however. But what counted was that Sponjetta was a good sport. That clip has been engraved forever into my brain.

You think that the moment would end there, right?


For the past day, "Studio" has been playing incessantly on repeat in my head. To make matters worse, it's only the line "I'll be in my studio, studio" that has caught on. Every activity that I've done has been punctuated by those words.


Damn it, Howie Mandel. You were right. The song will stay stuck in my head for a very long time, and I hate that.

Lesson learned: I will read more books.

Barb the French Bean

Disclaimer: As the post states, Sponjetta Parrish is responsible for writing this song. (You don't think I wrote THAT, did you???) Oh, and the video isn't mine.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What's Going on in My Room

During the 7 months that I was away, the air conditioning device in my room took a nice long vacation from functioning 24/7. I have now returned. It's officially summer and to be in a room without air conditioning equates to suffering in a self-induced sauna.

Last night, after being forced to pick up its arduous work schedule, I came to the conclusion that my air conditioner is going on strike. To punish me for making it undergo a relentless torture, it started dripping water down the wall.

That water eventually collected on the floor. Where some of my books and papers had been set.


I don't have enough money to provide my air conditioner with some Social Security so it can quietly retire on a beach somewhere. I can't afford to replace it with a younger, stronger model. It has to continue laboring in my room, spewing cool waves of relief. Once I had turned off the switch, I cleaned up the water and began an operation.

I removed the front cover to expose the AC's innards. I hooked a couple of tubes to drain the water that pours out and slanted each tube into a large 5 gallon pail.

Well, at least it works.

Barb the French Bean

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pin-Pin le Clown

During the month of April, when I was in full romance with my first (and now ex) boyfriend, I got the habit of writing him letters and making little doodles to let me see his big toothy smile. One of those drawings resulted in Pin-Pin le Clown.

My boyfriend has his own term for idiots and that was "Pin-pin." He used it disparagingly whenever he spotted someone, whether it was on television or on the street, who looked like he lacked intelligence.

I'm sure that if he were asked what he thought about the French soccer team, he would respond: "Oh, those guys are just a bunch of pin-pins."

To me, the term sounded like a name for a clown. So, one day, I drew my first sketch. In this initial drawing, Pin-Pin did not have a large smile. Nor did he have a frown. He was simply expressionless. Boyfriend criticized that because he wanted Pin-Pin to not be sad. From that day, I began making a series of Pin-Pin le Clown drawings for him in which he never had a negative face. I presented my cartoons to my ex if he had had a bad day, and I loved seeing how his gloomy attitude changed in an instant.
Pin-Pin always has something cheerful to say, even when he was once drunk and surrounded by empty green bottles of beer and was caught by a police officer.

Barb the French Bean

Some Franchouillard Truths

Throughout my years of studying and living among the French, my American friends always ask me about certain French stereotypes. These aspects, happily portrayed in films, have unfortunately created certain images about the French that are rather ridiculous. So, with some frustration, I hope to dispel some of these myths.

1) The French do not dress like this on a 24/7 basis:

I admit that you might often see them with a long baguette cradled in the crook of their arm, but scratch the whole striped shirt and Basque beret ensemble. Their taste in clothing tends to be very, very classy. I love the way Frenchwomen wrap their scarves in a casual yet elegant fashion.

2) They are not arrogant, rude people.

This is worth repeating: THEY ARE NOT ARROGANT, RUDE PEOPLE. They are, in fact, some of the nicest and most polite beings I have ever met.

I believe that the any perception of impoliteness comes from the fact that foreigners are not familiar with their social codes. When they walk into a store, the French stick rigidly to the custom of actually looking a stranger in the eye and saying "bonjour Monsieur" or "bonsoir Madame." They acknowledge the presence of the storekeeper. They don't just walk into the shop and ignore the person behind the counter. Failure of greeting the storekeeper is considered RUDE.

If they come across a foreigner who has little or no understanding of French, they will try to speak English. Yet once they are on American soil, the French are expected to know English or get out.

That's right. The French aren't the ones who are rude and belligerent; YOU are.

3) They do not dislike Americans (please keep in mind truth #2).

The French are quite fond of our music and films. They dream of visiting New York City and, for some inexplicable reason, taking a motorcycle and traversing the country from the East Coast to the West. They even have tours offering this sort of excursion. There are, of course, certain historical significances between both countries. IF there is some true disparity about why the French dislike Americans, it is because this discorrdance arises from political events (i.e. Chirac's refusal to participate in war and President Bush calling him out on it). Electing President Obama decidedly made things O.K. again.

4) Their laugh does not go "hon-hon-hon."

They have a normal laugh like any normal person. When my class of seconde were yukking up after I made a mistake, they didn't go:

Frenchwomen tend to avoid bursting out in loud, raucous whoops (but that is certainly not the case 100% of the time, either).

5) Not all of their music revolves around the accordion.

They have their own rock artists (Johnny Hallyday, Damien Saez), pop artists (Mylène Farmer), even rappers (MC Solaar).

I admit, however, that I have a preference for the old-style French music. Charles Aznavour, Edith Piaf and Enzo Enzo! My favorite Edith Piaf song happens to be, ironically enough, "L'Accordéoniste."

6) They don't consider the poodle a proper representative of their culture.

Yes. Really.

They reserve those cultural identities to their wines, cheeses, the flag, la Tour Eiffel, Vercingétorix, Jeanne d'Arc, Napoléon, De Gaulle and La Marseillaise. But certainly NOT the poodle. Pas de question.

I certainly won't forget the shock my room mates and my ex-boyfriend had when I told them that Americans link poodles with France. Their incredulous verbal reaction was a wary "quoi? Le caniche?" Yes, le caniche. The French poodle. That is why when we once checked out a Miami bakery's website, they displayed a pink cake decorated with a purple Eiffel tower with a fluffy snobbish dog drawn next to it.

Room mate: o_O"

"But those are mean, ugly dogs! Beurk!"

There are plenty of other untruths, but those are some that I can think off the top of my head. And for those Americans who say "if it weren't for us, they'd be German" : if it weren't for the French, we might still be British.

Barb the French Bean

Disclaimer: I do not own the video of Edith Piaf (though it would be awesome if I did)

Monday, June 21, 2010

My Two Imaginary Scenarios

My daily life includes going to classes, doing homework, blogging, going to kick boxing, and the never ending errands in my life. I know not so much, but by the end of the day I am dead tired.

However, Ever so often I tend to think about my current ex-boyfriend. When I do think of him it makes me wonder if he misses me...

I guess not...

Though I really wouldn't know. The situation could also be like this:

Well I will never know, though I do believe it is the first one since he does looooooove food. But I like the second scenario much better! >:]

-Hanny The Coffee Bean

Life of Garbage

One of the most difficult aspects of learning a foreign language is oral comprehension. It takes many years to have your ear become accustomed to deciphering the sounds, inflection and vocabulary. The advantage of practicing constantly results in training the mind to pick up new things.

But it is difficult. Misunderstandings develop when one interprets something different from what had actually been spoken. No matter how much practice you have, these auditive mistakes can happen. Even a 12-year French language veteran like me is not exempted from this inevitable fact of life.


One day, I spoke with Samantha, a Frenchwoman who greatly admires the United States and teaches English at the high school. She asked me what were some of my favorite shows.

"Oh, I like The Office, 30 Rock, Monty Python's Flying Circus, and I Love Lucy."

To my great surprise, my colleague said that she had not heard of the first two shows. Out of curiousity, I asked if she liked I Love Lucy.

"Well, yes I do. When I was a French assistant in Boston in my twenties, I would watch the show with my roommates. It's funny."

"Is I Love Lucy popular in France?"

"No. The French normally don't like watching older shows. In fact, most of them haven't even heard of this program or of Lucille Ball."

My jaw dropped.

I have been watching the antics of Lucy and Ethel played across my TV since I was 5. I cannot think of one American who does not get the reference of "Lucy, you got some 'splainin' to do." Who hasn't laughed when Lucy tried to advertise Vitameatavegemin and became completely plastered? Apparently, not the French. To tell an American that you have never heard of I Love Lucy is like telling a Frenchman that you have never heard of Edith Piaf.

(Also, if the French don't like older shows, then why the hell do they still watch Little House on the Prairie?)

A sudden desire to rectify this ignorance rose in my body. I designed a lesson for my seconde students based on T.V. terminology and made a handout describing one of the longest running shows on American television. I had them do a little exercise in which they explained to me what their own favorite shows were.

Up until that point, I was unfamiliar with Plus Belle la vie. I later found out that it is a cheesy, histrionic soap opera set in Marseille. It appears that all the French are familiar with the show and they unanimously despise it based on the grounds that it is quite vapid. Yet I suspect that their appreciation is more of a "love-hate" scenario. If it is still on the air then it obviously has enough viewers who love-hate it.

Poubelle, by the way, means "trash can." So in my English teaching assistant mind, the title that means More Beautiful Life changed to Life of Garbage.

...At least I got the proper concept of the show right.

Barb the French Bean