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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Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 7, 2013 3:43PM

I played with Barbie and I'm okay


A recent article on Buzzfeed talks about how Barbie’s sales have been steadily declining over the past year or so.  Many people seem to be celebrating this news, and seeing it as a sign of hope: Mattel’s bestsellers are now the child-shaped American Girls dolls and the Mo… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JUNE 25, 2013 9:25AM

Fun in the pet food aisle


I collect a lot of things.  But my newest collection is kind of odd.  And it delights me every day.

It all started a few months ago.  In our local grocery store, a bag of cat food caught my eye.  It wasn’t a flashy design or shiny wrapping, but… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 3, 2013 5:04PM

The Leap

It took me a really long time to learn to walk.  That’s the way I’ve been about most big developments in life; I rarely just decide to do something on the spur of the moment. Instead, I hesitate, analyze, worry over what could go wrong.  Baby me probably didn’t want toRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 7, 2013 12:37PM

The Craigslist paradox

I take a breath.  How am I going to write this email without seeming overly upset?

After a few minutes, I begin:

Hi guys, 

I just want to thank you all, on behalf of myself and my brother (and Hermes) for all your help in spreading the wordRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 11, 2012 3:45PM

One Oser's vision

OSer Ingrid Ricks’ new memoir FOCUS starts out like a nightmare:  During a routine eye exam, she’s told the slight vision problems she’s been having might be more than just a side effect of getting older.  Another examination reveals that she has retinitis pigmentosaRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 7, 2012 3:23AM

Obama made me cry

In general, I'm not a very political person.  No matter how important a subject it might be, politics usually doesn't interest me. Maybe if politicians dressed like Lady Gaga, or there were talking animals involved.
I think the main reason is, for many of the issues politicians speak abo… Read full post »
Comments are now closed for this post.
Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 1, 2012 2:19PM

A lively, lovely necropolis



People are often surprised when I suggest a cemetery as one of the things they should see in Paris.

Of course, Père Lachaise isn’t like most cemeteries.  Named for a Jesuit priest and confessor of Louis XIV who once owned the land, Père Lachaise opened i… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 17, 2012 10:10AM

A time of wonder

My friend Ellen had a dollhouse that had been constructed for her by a family member.  Made of thin pine boards.  The carpets of the tiny rooms, I realize now, were mere green felt.  But what a thing it was, an elaborate maze of stairways and small spaces.  Even the dollsRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 18, 2012 7:56AM

Tiger Moms


One day many years ago, my mother took my sister and me to the veterinary clinic where she was working.  Though she often let us visit her workplace (cats with tiny anesthesia masks on, kenneled dogs crazily barking, and the odor of benedyne pepper my childhood memories), this time was… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 13, 2012 9:39AM

Closet fatigue

Over the past few days, the boyfriend has single-handedly built a wall-to-wall sliding-door storage closet in our living room. Banned from the construction site because of my clumsiness (and rightly so; yesterday, for example, while carrying my computer, I somehow slipped on our non-slippery floor, cRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 1, 2012 8:23AM

Could you be an illegal immigrant?


A response to Beth Mann’s post, “My Secret Republican Side”.


It’s hard to see completely clearly within yourself, but I know that most of the major decisions I’ve made in my life point to love being what motivates me.  Which made it sort of funnRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 20, 2012 2:42PM

The un-air-conditioned nightmare




Our cat Ali tries his best to beat the heat.


 With some exceptions, including most office buildings, museums, and movie theaters, a majority of French interiors are sans air-conditioning.

When it comes to modern conveniences, the French often seem to be behindRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 10, 2012 11:47AM

Are all lives equal?


Nearly two decades after their rough divorce, my parents still don’t exactly get along very well, to put it mildly.  One of my father’s constant criticisms of my mother is, “She likes animals more than people.”  Seeing that he was forced to live with at leastRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
JUNE 29, 2012 1:36PM

Repost: The Hardest "Easy" Thing I've Had to Do


Yesterday, Poppi Iceland's Open Call about our immigration stories got me thinking.  As I looked for posts I'd written about my ancestors' immigration to the United States, and mine to France, I came upon one that still made me feel indignant.  When I got onto OS today andRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
JUNE 24, 2012 9:02AM

Fascinating memoirs by two people you may know

two books
Recently, I’ve read two excellent autobiographical essay collections.  And they happen to be by people you very well may know….

If you’ve been on OS for even a short while, you’ve most likely encountered Linda Seccaspina.  You kn… Read full post »
Editor’s Pick
JUNE 20, 2012 9:32AM

Brooklyn pizza comes to Paris…sort of

Before I begin, a disclaimer: I’m not saying French food is bad.  On the contrary, there are many French dishes that I love.  But even when you live in a culinary mecca, and appreciate the native cuisine, over time, you will probably find yourself craving comestibRead full post »
Editor’s Pick
MAY 23, 2012 7:06AM

ASH - All (kinds of) Stories Here

collected short stories vol 2
Last Friday, I wrote about the one-year blogoversary of the OS Weekend Fiction Club.  A few days later, I finished reading a book by one of its regulars.

Allen “Skipper” Howlett, known here on OS as ASH…, is a hard w… Read full post »
Editor’s Pick
MAY 16, 2012 7:43AM

Should "bully" be in our vocabulary?

I’ve always found it intriguing that the French have no word for “bully” or “to bully”.  Not “bully” in the Teddy Roosevelt sense, 

but the ubiquitous &ld… Read full post »
Editor’s Pick
MAY 8, 2012 1:05PM

Out on a limb: An OS meet-up in Paris!

It’s always nice to read a post or get a PM from OSer Out on a limb, but the message I received from him a few months ago was especially cool: He and his family would be coming to Paris in early May, and he wanted to know if we… Read full post »
Editor’s Pick
APRIL 26, 2012 1:40PM

Jay-Z, Kanye West, and the French Presidential Campaign

“So,” the boyfriend said, when the results were announced last Sunday night, “are you going to write about the first round of the elections on your blog?”

I told him I wouldn’t.  For one thing, politics really isn’t a subject that interes… Read full post »
Editor’s Pick
APRIL 16, 2012 9:23AM

Bows, Arrows, and Historic Underwear

marche 1 
Like a good number of people involved in historical reenactments, my boyfriend has acquired some pretty impressive skills, such as Napoleonic-era wooden button creation, or early 19th century French army pants-  and-jacket-  making.  But there are some things/… Read full post »
Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 27, 2012 8:57AM

Jean Dujardin, the Oscars, and France

Those of you lucky enough to catch the Oscars last night (here in France they were only aired on a pay cable channel that we don’t have…sigh….) probably saw the funny, handsome Frenchman Jean Dujardin win Best Actor for his role in The Artist.

As he accepted his award, Dujardin&r… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 1, 2012 8:30AM


“I got a job offer from a company in Luxembourg.  Great salary. I think I’m going to take it.”

“Luxembourg?”  I try to hide my shock. “But what about Singapore?”

“Well, yes, but I’ll make more at this job.  Singapore was a dream,… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 19, 2011 10:22AM

My truth about Santa


I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.

                                                      &n… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 30, 2011 8:56AM

Two small bookstores that have a big place in my heart

Though hard economic times have led to lots of restaurant, café, and clothing store closures, it's rare that a Parisian bookstore fails.  On the other hand, I’ve read with sadness and horror about the closings of many US bookshops – be they chain stores like Borders, or smalle… Read full post »