Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Translating "DIY girl" into French

I have to admit to being a “do it yourself” kind of girl. Thanks to Martha Stewart, Oprah, Home Depot and Nigella Lawson, I’ve found I can do almost anything. I rather enjoy getting my hands dirty—or, rather, I enjoyed getting my hands dirty.

Shortly after saying adieu to American life, I remembered why I like it so much; In the U.S., it's easy to keep my hands clean because everything is so automated. At home, DIY is a hobby, not a lifestyle. I push a button and my oven becomes a toasty 375 degrees. Another button and my dishwasher runs at “hum” level so as not to disturb my morning coffee and, speaking of coffee, it grinds its own beans, at 7 a.m. daily, without me pushing anything!

Living in France has reminded this happy, modern woman of what non-automated life is like. I live in a rather typical, French, non-bourgeoisie apartment. The oven is not self-cleaning, nor self-lighting. There is no dryer for the clothes and I am the in-house dishwasher. The mop drips until I personally, literally wring it out and the freezer (which is the size of shoebox) requires me to defrost it every 2 weeks or so.

The first few days here I tried to be the happy, 1950s homemaker. Since it would only be for a few months, I thought it might be fun. I was wrong. Once the initial novelty had passed, I found myself standing, mop in-hand, in utter denial that modern life could be so non-user-friendly. Shortly thereafter, however, I decided to figure out how to translate "DIY girl" into French. I set my browser to marthastewart.com, turned on Peggy Lee, and rolled up my sleeves.

To be fair, I still have many Sarah McLaughlin days when I simply refuse to spend time wringing out the mop (seriously, doesn’t Swiffer know there’s an entire world out there?). And after exhaustive research, I discovered a Domino’s Pizza just down the road. I’ve also found a great babysitter who speaks English AND does the dishes. Life here is still DIY, but it in a more occasional, modern, “me” kind of way.

I may have permanently said au revoir to the clothes drier, though. There’s something so quaint and carefree about watching your clothes blowing in the summer sun. I wonder what I’ll do come winter.