That edginess has always made me feel alive

"It's that thinking that makes me feel alive. And it makes me notice everything around me. When I become complacent like I was in the United States, you just get used to things so you don't think about them. You think, I'll get a cab. I'll go to the airport. I'll have a patty melt. You don't think about it. Whereas now with me, the anxiety starts early on. And I'm always afraid that somebody's going to throw me a curve ball and ask me a question like, what sign are you? Just ask me a question like that out of nowhere. And I'll appear foolish. So it keeps me on edge. But really, that edginess has always made me feel alive."

- David Sedaris on living in Paris

"Why do you live in Paris? And I say, well, you know, I just sort of wanted to. All the reasons that you give sound really embarrassing, cliche, and ridiculous at this point. I mean, Paris is a stale dream. And it's kind of like falling in love with the most obviously cute boy in the class, or like the star of this-- or like a movie star. It's like being a groupie. And then you try to convince the other 25 women who he slept with the last week, well, you know, I really love him, and I think he loves me, too."

Kristin Hohenadel on first moving to Paris

"You know, you walk down the street in Los Angeles and you feel low. And that's a terrible example because it's Los Angeles, but you feel kind of dwarfed. And [in Paris], I just think, yes, this is exactly it. This is how life should be, the pace, the scale, the way it looks."

Kristin Hohenadel on returning to the US after living in Paris

"That's when I realized I wasn't in Kansas anymore. And I liked it. I mean, of course, it was kind of humiliating, because you know, we're supposed to be the intimidating, scary ones. And then all these French bitches in high heels were threatening us. And they were in our faces. And it made me realize that the whole black-white game just doesn't work outside of the United States.

Because white people aren't afraid of you here. And at the same time, they don't hate you, because that sort of goes together. So I'll take it. I'll wait on line. Now I don't dare jump lines. So that opened my eyes."
Janet Mcdonald on being African American in Paris

"I associated the word American with white guys with flags on their lawns, who didn't particularly like me. And people would call me American. And I'd say I'm not American. I'm black. And these were like black French people. And they're like, you are so American. And I remember these French West Indian friends of mine, this one, in particular, from Martinique was saying, you even walk like an American. I'm like, what do you mean? What does an American walk like? And she said they kick their legs when they walk. They kick their legs forward."
Janet Mcdonald on being African American in Paris

"Here's something else. There are certain things about French culture, Janet says, that just make life here very pleasant. For one thing, people don't ask you personal questions, where you grew up, where you work, what's your family life, what's your story. You're not constantly explaining yourself. She says she has one friend who she knew for five years before she knew this woman had a grown son. Also, there isn't the same striving, the same ambition to be number one as in the States, especially compared with the corporate law job she used to have, where everybody was expected to put in 60 and 70 and 80 hours a week. Here, that would be seen as very strange. Work just is not that important to most people."

- Ira Glass interviewing Janet Mcdonald

Find the transcript for This American Life on Americans in Paris here.  Photography by Trop Rouge.

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