Alysa Salzberg

Alysa Salzberg
Paris, France
December 31
Writer, copy editor, translator, travel planner. Head servant to my cat.
A reader, a writer, a fingernail biter, a cat person, a traveller, a cookie inhaler, an immigrant, a dreamer. …And now, self-employed! If you like my blog and if you're looking for sparkling writing, painstaking proofreading, nimble French-English translation, or personalized travel planning, feel free to check out


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NOVEMBER 28, 2011 5:22PM

Small Steps


There are some diseases that never completely disappear, but only lie dormant. Although a portion of people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) seem to come to a point where they find a cure – be it through diet, lifestyle, or other methods, many others will never completely sh… Read full post »

A few days ago, Beth Mann wrote a list of seven things she's surprised she likes.   Not only did I think Beth’s list was a good one, I also thought her idea would make for a really cool open call – especially on Thanksgiving weekend (for those who celebrate).

I w… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 23, 2011 1:39PM

What's really blocking me?

Ten years ago, I was a prolific novelist. 

Not a published novelist, or even necessarily a good one – though the few people who read what I’d written did have nice things to say.  Then again, they were my best friends. 

I tried to pen a novel almost… Read full post »


When I was in fourth and fifth grade, you could say I was many things -- including the dumbest kid in the Talented and Gifted Students program.  

Despite my horrific performances in just about anything involving math, every Tuesday I’d go with the other kids in the program out… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 15, 2011 10:52AM

Fell in love with a 'Boy'



 (image source and for more information)


Ever since she joined OS back in February, Ingrid Ricks has been sharing elements of an extraordinary life story – her own.

Born to a devout Mormon mother and a father who can’t resist the call of the ope… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 11, 2011 8:33AM

A Soldier and his Family


Gabriel Brousse (back row, second from right) in Greece with his comrades in arms, 7 March 1916. 


Most native French families have at least one ancestor who fought in World War I.  Often these men didn’t come back from the front.  

Though photographs and othe… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 8, 2011 2:53PM

Living the Steampunk Dream on Halloween

Our belated Halloween party this past Saturday turned out to be pretty successful. For one thing, I was amazed that all of our guests – even one who was only 7 months old – came dressed up, like we’d asked!  In years past, this request has mostly gone unheeded, but this… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 5, 2011 8:54AM


The murderer’s rage had ended.  Cissy and another victim lay beside each other in the little space under the floorboards. 

“Do you think he’s gone?” Cissy whispered.

“I think so,” the other victim, a man, replied.

Both their bodies lay supine, still,… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 3, 2011 4:35PM

Getting Medieval in the Marais

Last Thursday, I went to an exhibit at the Bibliothèque Forney, a public library at the southern edge of Paris's Marais neighborhood.  While the exhibit, called Gaz à tous les étages, didn't allow photos (I have got to make a fake press pass and see where that… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 31, 2011 9:18AM

Scary News: Halloween has vanished from Paris


I knew this year that things wouldn’t be the same.  All Saints Day falls on a Tuesday, which means that a lot of people could have a four-day weekend by taking off  the day before  (most French people do this whenever a holiday falls in such a way – there’s… Read full post »

The ghost of the Comtesse de Marignac stares mournfully out the window, waiting for her husband, who she knows will never come back.  It's  a sight that would move anyone to pity.  Except me.  I’m rather sick of it.

It’s certainly easy to feel sorry for her.  A y… Read full post »

OCTOBER 25, 2011 6:13PM

Impostor with a Cause

Hi, I’m Carmen.  I’m 35 years old and come from Argentina.  Do you want to go to the movies sometime?

I finish typing and click “Publish”.  And just like that, I’ve committed identity fraud.

But with Carmen’s approval.

Carmen* is one of my best fr… Read full post »

OCTOBER 22, 2011 9:00AM


Dedicated to the victims of a massacre in Ohio this week.  To read the story, please click here for a thorough report (including photographs that may be troubling) from The Daily Mail.

&ldquo… Read full post »

A few days ago, OSer and all-around great guy Macco launched an OC that encouraged us to share truly terrible Halloween jokes - perhaps revealing the worst Halloween joke ever.  At the time, I didn't think I'd ever be able to come up with one.  But the winged muse visite… Read full post »

OCTOBER 19, 2011 8:28AM

Blocking Nature's Call

One of the first known toilets: The ancient city of Mohenjo-Daro was filled with commodes like the one pictured (which were even connected to a sewage system!).  The site dates to ca. 2800 BC.


A few years ago, I took a roadtrip across the USRead full post »

OCTOBER 15, 2011 10:09AM

Last Monday in Paris


Last week, my brother-in-law returned to Paris after visiting his parents in the French countryside. We had some lazy days, but also some really full ones.  A friend here asked me to post some pictures of the things we  saw and did.  Here are a few from last Monday, our… Read full post »

OSer Sally Allen has a knack for making people think about and enjoy reading even more than they might already– and she does so with the perfect mix of intelligence, insight, and wit, all while remaining down-to-earth and fun. Now, she’s launched a really cool OC, asking us to l… Read full post »

OCTOBER 7, 2011 3:28PM

Cultural Exchange

“He’s back again,” she peered anxiously through the blinds into the dark desert night.  Why did it have to be so dark?  Maybe they were afraid to order streetlights because the locals would sabotage the vehicles.  Would they?

“Shh!” he chided from the arm… Read full post »

OCTOBER 4, 2011 3:04PM

Chair Tests

“Can’t we go sit on those couches?  Can we have our lesson outside?" 

Teachers are usually the ones giving tests, but there’s a sort of test I get from my English as a Foreign Language students all the time: the chair test.

It’s not something that’s spoken ab… Read full post »

OCTOBER 1, 2011 12:51PM


This week's Fiction Weekend prompt came from the Writer's Digest website: A character is having the worst day of his/her life when someone calls and changes it for the better. Who calls, what’s it about and what series of events causes the transformation from worst day to best day?  … Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 28, 2011 10:49AM

The Meter and Me


the meter and me 

In the late 1790’s, France was the first country to adopt the metric system.  Unlike the measuring units of the Ancien Régime, which were based on agriculture, nature, and body parts, those of the metric system were based on the number 10.  Sometimes called… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 25, 2011 5:47PM

Turning into the Witch-Wife

At some point in my early teen years, I discovered the work of Edna St. Vincent Millay. I was captivated by the resonance and, often, the sadness of many of her poems from the first time I read them.  But few of her lines struck me and stuck with me like… Read full post »



A beautiful spiral staircase tower in one of the Hôtel de Ville's internal courtyards 

This past weekend the European Heritage Days (journées européennes du patrimoine) took place, meaning free access to many buildings and monuments throughout the contine… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 19, 2011 8:15AM

My afternoon at the French Senate

hemi 1 

Europe is full of beautiful monuments and historic sites.  Unfortunately, not all of them are open to the public.  The journées européennes du patrimoine (European Heritage Days), created in France as la Journée portes ouvertes dans les monuments histRead full post »

SEPTEMBER 12, 2011 1:20PM

Billy the Kid now rides with the law

One of the first things I ever wrote about on OS was my sister, whom I call “Billy the Kid.”  That's her name on this blog, I mean; I've never called her by that moniker in real life  - I think she’d make fun of me if I did.  But it perfectly captured… Read full post »