Interview: "Me, Myself and Paris" with author Ruth Yunker

Judy MacMahon - 04/07/13 -
We first met Ruth in Paris in October 2010, author of “Me, myself, and Paris”, available at As many of you know, my first year of living in Paris was not easy, in fact it was down-right challenging to say the least. Ruth also had similar experiences and was able to look at Paris through the eyes of a “newbie” as well as a part-timer.  As I was reading her book I laughed and I cried because it brought back so many memories. Neither one of us are avowed Francophiles so we can see Paris from so many different angles. Ruth brings us on a journey of discovery.

Recently, Ruth spent some time with us in our home in the U.S.  We introduced Ruth to our community, and she graced us with a “reading”.  I also had an opportunity to interview Ruth about her book.

Judy MacMahon - 04/07/13 -
Ruth, can you tell me a little about yourself and how you selected Paris as a place to live part-time? 

Well Randy, I’m a writer and humorist, a Californian, a mother of two grown children, and a yoga, crossword and cashew fanatic.  I was at a kind of crossroads and I wanted to get away to a foreign country.  I chose Paris because at one time I spoke decent French, and I knew it would come very in handy having a grasp on the language of the country I chose.  It turned out that my French was beyond rusty when I got there, and now, four years later, may be up to sub par.  But boy, my accent is perfect!  Just ask my friends!

Can you tell me what inspired you to write this book?

I’m a writer, and the  fact is absolutely anything and everything a writer does is grist for a book.  So naturally all the learning curves and pratfalls I took getting adjusted turned into a book…which started with the copious journal I kept for the entire trip.  Also, the first trip to Paris on my own, was a triumph, as far as I was concerned!  I stayed for six long weeks, and walked away smiling!  I wanted to share this with anyone who ever wants to travel, but are nervous about trying it on their own, especially women.

I have a love-hate relationship with Paris, is there something you really love about Paris and what you really “dislike”? 

Paris is one of those places that inspires love/hate relationships, I think.  Mostly because the Parisians themselves can be an austere bunch, who have no patience for the bumbling, but ridiculously happy, tourist.  I live in a tourist area myself, and there’s nothing more annoying than all these happy people on vacation, getting in your way, clogging the way, when you are in the midst of your own humdrum daily life!  But Paris herself is so beautiful.  For me, it’s the history of the place, the oldness, the magnificence.  I like nothing more than to simply walk around.  Of course this isn’t a stroll.  The sidewalks are crowded, everybody is in a hurry, but even that adds to the charm of being out and about on foot on cobblestoned streets.  I’m jostled and hurried and blown to bits, out and about, in Paris, and being a car oriented Californian, this is downright exotic!

Living in Paris is a challenge for most Americans, what was the biggest challenge you had to overcome?

Since everything is a challenge because it’s in a foreign language, I have to say having the guts to go up to a Parisian and ask a question, in French.  How much is this?  Where is that?  How does this work? And so on. They would always reply with a stream of French which I barely
understood, and so would have to haltingly ask more questions.  It was exhausting.  But necessary.  Parisians will happily work with you if you are willing to try and speak French.

You’ve lived in many places in the US as well as in Europe. Where do you see yourself living or splitting your time? 

Such a glorious question!  So many choices!  But narrowing it down, I plan to be based on the West Coast, either LA or SF area.  Both of my children live on the West Coast.  And then Paris.  With a mountain and country retreat thrown in.  Right now I spend the summers in a tiny town in the Midwest, away from all tourists!  And I’ve just fallen in love with Soda Springs, CA, which you, Randy, introduced me to!

Judy MacMahon - 04/07/13 -

Could you live anywhere “full-time”? and, if so where would it be and why? 

I don’t know if I can answer that.  I basically live full time in CA right now, although I do seem to be spending quite a bit of time away…hmmm! For me, right now, there isn’t anywhere I would want to settle full time.  But this is now.  I’m changeable!

If there is one important advice you can give my readers who may be thinking  about moving to Paris, what would that be?

Know some French, and plan to learn more.  Plan to be the most polite American you can be. Put away the entitlement syndrome, and enjoy doing things their way.

You have plans to write, “Me, myself and Paris II” now that you are becoming more “Parisian” what do you want to focus on?

Judy macMahon - 04/07/13 -
I’ll be able to answer that question after I’ve written “MM&P Deux”!  But I know that there will be more inclusion of experiences I had living in Brussels for three years when I was a teenager.  And this last trip, Facebook acquaintances played a huge role.  That’s how you and I met, Randy!  And you generously shared your Parisian life with me!  Also, I want to write about the Seine.  I just can’t seem to put into words how I feel about it.  I hope it just spills out!

Ruth’s summary

A few years ago, I had a notion that I wanted to spend a good amount of time in a foreign country.  I didn’t know how I could pull it off.  But instead of forgetting about it, I began to pull away at the constrictions and hurdles, until here I am today, a woman who goes to Paris every year for six weeks a time.  I never would have pictured this!  So I say plan that dream by starting to believe you can make it happen that is after having picked a dream that is at least somewhat feasible!  And never be afraid to go on your own.  For me, these trips to Paris on my own have allowed me to regain my relationship with myself.

Summary:  Ruth’s book is a reflection of who she is, warm, funny, and extremely personable. Since meeting on Facebook over a year ago, it’s been a real pleasure to finally get to know her in person and through her book.  I strongly encourage you to read it, because it gives you a perspective of our lives in Paris as expats, the good, the bad, the ugly and the funny!

Click on this link to get Ruth’s book,  Me, Myself and Paris…

Many thanks to both Randy and Ruth for such a wonderful interview! To get to know Ruth better, feel free to ask her questions here in our comments section below …
To get to know Randy better you might like to read the My French Life Interviews with Randy (in English)…

And also here is a link to Randy’s blog which I am sure that you will enjoy otherwise known as I am NOT a Francophile, but I live in Paris.

About the Contributor

Judy MacMahon

Experience FRANCE beyond the CLICHÉ with MyFrenchLife is for Curious Savvy Francophiles wherever you are. Meet Francophiles in France, online, and/or wherever you live. You’re very welcome to join us - Judy MacMahon -

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