Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Identity Crisis

I think it is interesting that there are millions of people everyday ordering coffee at local coffee houses, Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee and Coffee Bean. Many of these places choose to get personal with their customers by calling out coffee orders using the customer’s name.

My name (Parlene—that’s right, with a “P”, it’s not a typo) being far from common is always botched. On a boring day I might just order my coffee and croissant and use the name D-arlene. Nothing too complicated. But on those days when I’m feeling pretty good I like to try names that are a bit bold. I’ve tried a variety of names. Everything from London to Paris to Madeleine. I like to use European cities as different names from time to time. Other times I use my friend’s names, even if they are standing right next to me.

It occurred to me that I may not be alone in my quest for unique and exotic names. I am taking a guess that about 75% of people don’t use their real names when placing orders or whatever it may be that beckons giving a name.

I once was very surprised when a friend who calls herself “shy” boldly gave the name “Lola”! The next time you enter a coffee bar and declare your name, think of something foreign or zany. And when your fascinating name is called out, walk tall and proud!

I’m interested in hearing what names people are inventing for themselves. Leave a comment on my blog and give your real name and your favorite fake name to use. Thanks for sharing.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Corsica, France By Becky Dolman

We arrived on the island of Corsica in the month of December for a three month stay. During the winter it can be very cold here, it even snowed! We thought, "Hey! We are supposed to be in the Mediterranean!” But when the clouds parted and we took our first stroll around the city, it was oneof the most beautiful sites we have ever seen!

The city is overlooked by a huge fortress built four or five centuries ago. I enjoy walking around town taking in the picturesque view. There is only one main shopping street called Boulevard Wilson. The town is quite small (5,000 people) so one easily meets friends on the street or in the grocery store. The Corsican custom here is to kiss when friends meet each other. Even the men kiss each other with two kisses – one on each cheek. It was strange for my husband Edwin when he had his first "public kiss". We were at the grocerystore and he came across two friends and they gave their two customary kisses. I have to say it’s a bit unusual for me also to see my husband receive a kiss on the cheek. A few weeks later Edwin played soccer and he was the last to arrive. Every player greeted him with the two kisses and then played a competitive game of soccer! Bizarre but so cute at the same time!

We eat all the typical French food. Especially the Corsican cuisine, such as the local wine, cheese and Charcuterie. Corsicans even have French Corsican Cola! My French cooking is not that great yet. I’ve had a hard time understanding the recipes. I was starting to get a bad reputation with my cooking but I redeemed myself with American Chocolate Cookies and Carrot Cake (which most Corsicans have never tried) Everybody is crazy for them!

I also had to change my name. In the states I go by “Becky”. I am now Rebecca. Apparently my name sounds too close to “bequille” – the French word for “crutch”.

The Corsicans are incredibly nice and generous. We have received as gifts homemade brioche, fresh eggs, vegetables, fruit, homemade jam, and oranges from an orchard from the 14th century! A few friends even surprised us with a surprise anniversary party after only 2 weeks on the island. The party was complete with decorations, food (quiche of course!) champagne and presents. My husband even had tears in his eyes!

Mais bien sur (but of course), I love France! We buy everything French from the Provence scented toilet paper to the Ratatouille Kleenex picture boxes. VIVE LA FRANCE!! Even though we are only here for three months, all these experiences have taught us how to live another day in a European style life.

By Rebecca “Becky” Dolman
France Correspondent