rendre service


                        Giving my first talk at Shakepeare and Company.

désaxé (day-zack-say) adjective

    : unhinged, unbalanced


A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Désaxé refers to a "mentally disoriented" person. It also means off-centered. I might have been both on Monday night, while speaking before an audience in Paris. Truth is, I did not feel the familiar disorientation, at least not mentally. There was calm, peace, and deliverance on the day of my discours.

Oh to be delivered from the chains that bind us!
Troubled and tortured no more! Free to enjoy daily life without the nagging nerves that keep us from the present moment, detached from those oft-crossed connections that cry feed me, fill me, comfort the out-of-control me.

By grace I have been set free in other areas of my life and so recognized the miracle on Monday night. And it didn't even matter that my body trailed behind, still smarting from injuries of times past. As my skin sweat, as my nose ran, as my hands searched for a place to rest behind the mic and the brightly lit stand... my mind juggled, with ease, enough inner conversations to amuse even Docteur Freud et Cie.

There, in a second story arrière boutique packed with books and book lovers, I stood. My back to Notre Dame, which lit the rippling River Seine below, I looked out over the hushed room, far as my blurry eyes could see. That is when that proverbial pin dropped, giving volume and clarity to the clatter of voices within me.

Untroubled yet astonished by the mind's ability to juggle, I listened to the handful of conversations in my head... and marveled at how words marched out of my mouth, by memory.

As my speech continued to deliver itself I tuned in, now and then, to the other speakers within. One of them was saying: You need to wipe your nose. In about thirty seconds it will drip, you have another twenty seconds to talk, but, I'm warning you, get ready to pull out that Kleenex in your pocket.

Another voice, busy taking account of the number of frozen faces in the room, went like this: they look so serious. They may be bored. Yes, the audience looks bored! Get ready to bifurcate at the next paragraph... Lighten up, speed up, or perhaps a joke? No, don't take the risk. Steady goes...

Meantime, the first voice reminded, Okay, time now to search for that Kleenex. Perhaps you can turn your head, toward Notre Dame? No, that would be even more conspicuous. Why not use your scarf? Just act as if you are drying your sweaty brow.

A third voice suggested: Indeed, you are going to look very bad wiping your nose. This voice was dismissed by another, which argued, You'll be horrified if it drips! It is okay to wipe your nose. Blow it if you have to!

While one voice monitored my vital signs and another, my speech—getting all my memorized points across to the audience, a fourth voice monitored the obstacle course beneath me: Careful not to trip over the mic cord, it said. Keep your lips close to the mic, but don't burn your chin on the light bulb, just beneath.

If the look on my face was one of amusement and delight, the video camera (there to my right) was sure to be capturing it all. I would later learn that the captured image was completely désaxé (with the sweaty speaker all the way to the right of the screen. Looking at her, I watch her wipe her brow, her nose. I watch as she runs her hand through her hair. I watch as she takes in a deep breath before stepping up to the mic, at which point she nearly steps off screen. It doesn't matter that her body has not yet caught up with her mind. Off-centered or désaxé, she is doing, after all, just fine.

 Kristin Espinasse
Note: I had difficulty uploading the video but will get that to you soon! Look for it on Monday..Because of trying to work out the video "soucis," I did not have the time to put together a vocabulary-and-sound section. Very sorry! (See update, below!)

Le Coin Commentaires

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- le discours = speech
- une arrière-boutique = back of the shop

Newforest writes: I think some of the inner voices may have said a few things to you in French but your brain quickly turned the words into English. For example:

- les chaînes qui nous attachent = the chains that bind us
- s'essuyer le nez = to wipe your nose
- you need to wipe your nose = tu dois t'essuyer le nez
- se moucher = to blow your nose
- Mouche-toi = Blow your nose!
- une plaisanterie = a joke

Pizza herbes

Herbes de Provence (Special for Pizza) in Crock:
Herbes picked in Provence with a blend of oregano, thyme, basil & marjoram

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Betty Gleason

Yeah, another mountain conquered! Kudos for wearing the mantle of your successes lightly.

Marika Ujvari

I knew you could do it!!! Can't wait for the video. Well done Kristin!


Bill in St. Paul

For those of us who do not come to public speaking naturally, your description brings back many memories. Good job , Kristin. I, too, can't wait to see the video.


You have such a kind beautiful face.. I bet no one would ever notice any of your trepidations..

Susan Clough

What delightful synchronicity - my birthday, Paris and being in Kristin Espinasse's audience - à la fois!

Sandy Maberly

Well done, Kristi. Doesn't it feel wonderful to have another accomplishment behind you? It appears that the "inner" you already recognizes the experience you have gained so far and will soon be taking over....leaving the rest of you to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.


Bravo chère Kristin. Intelligence, beauté et charme...c'est toi.


perfect way to spend our last evening in Paris.


Cheryl in STL

Your comments about being sweaty seemed to be a very normal acknowledgement of the importance of the event! I could easily see myself with a runny nose and red ears if I'd been in your shoes. I think that what endears you to so many of us is that your writings make us feel like friends. You had an audience full of those friends Monday night!

Evelyn Jackson

I see the little lights reflected in the window behind you...they are twinkling just for you, Kristin! Bravo on a stellar performance and facing down that public speaking fear we all have.


Hi Kristin,
Great job and I can't wait to see the video. I too am not a natural public speaker and my heart pounds, I shake and feel like I will just pass out right on the spot. Be proud of yourself for going ahead and doing it anyway. I am sure your natural charm and warmth shone through and nobody noticed that you were nervous!


Kristin succeeds on a level that you don't because, even if her writing is a bit "unpolished," her sincerity and heart shine through.
I have followed her blog and corresponded with her; she did not make something out of nothing. She is more than "nothing." She has a unique way of winning readers because she has something to say and she didn't need to pay to attend writing seminars for the profit of those offering them. She just used her talent and her lovely soul.
She has an adorable family and has not forgotten her American roots but instead incorporates them into her life as opposed to trying to forget them or compare them unfavorably with life in France.
Her blog is a delight and her photos are much more appealing than those of a middle-aged woman posing in Paris.
There you go, the name of a new column, Posing in Paris~!

jan greene

We are SO sad to have missed you. In fact to have postponed the trip due to the strike and weather. You look radiant with the lights reflected behind you. No one could suspect there was a choir of inner voices! Rather you have this following of supportive readers who wait for each thoughtful post. Well done! jan


Hi Kristin,

The handful of inner conversations going on in your head, tightly woven in your subconscious with threads of sheer common sense, have come out as charming little stories told with subtle humour.

Was the captured image badly “désaxée”?
No problem - we'll wait till Monday.

If you think the video shows a picture unsatisfyingly captured, this would distract our mind from your speech - true -
Put your “soucis d'image” on one side and bear in mind the essential is “le son” of the words delivered in your speech - as you don't say anything about it, I assume the sound is perfect. I hope you can extract it from the video. We'll enjoy listening to the recording of it without the help of the 'image'. It'll be like listening to the radio!

Fortunately, you gave us some interesting details and lovely pictures on Wed and today. So, no problem with using our imagination to picture you while talking to the audience.

All the very best!
and "Bon voyage" to Jean-Marc!

Madonna Meagher

I was a theater major in college and had several speech classes. From the easiest kind where I just said my name and a sentence or two about me, to delivering a 35 minute speech. It was as nerve-wracking as you describe, and I made errors, and literally fell on my face as my heel caught on the cuff of my pants while stepping onto the stage.

you cannot be a weak person to give a speech. you get better with good subject notes on index cards and rehearsal. Taping yourself and perhaps video taping your speech is the best way to catch the ums and ahs and personal "tic" habits that we all have.

You did fine! better than fine, excellent! and the other comments are dead were in a room of friends. Your personality was warm and charming and no one was judging you on your drippy nose. Take a handkerchief with you and not a paper tissue. Just watch other "professional" speakers, they are wiping and drinking and fidgeting all the time. so if you did any of those things, you are in good company. don't be hard on yourself, you have something to offer and your fans want to hear it, read it and see it.
best to you and Jean Marc.

Cynthia Crane

Sounds like Cabaret to me!!!! Looks to me like you did fine! Congrats, Cynthia


The picture of you standing next to an F Scott Fitzgerald poster, who held forth at Shakespeare and Co., is priceless. I think today's passage would have been comfortable in one of his novels.

Tami (Austin, TX)

You're such a wonderful writer, Kristin! No doubt your presentation was just as fantastic. I hope I have the pleasure of hearing and meeting you one day. Your passion for words and people shine through, even online. :)

Laura Blewett

You slayed that dragon, Kristin and we were all in your supportive army! Thanks for the ongoing, completely natural ease with which you described it all!

Karen in Towson, Md. USA

Congratulations Kristin. It all sounds wonderful - down to every last drip and bead. This might sound strange but I've heard that sniffing a Sharpie-type marker will stop that runny nose problem. If you forget to do that before hand then I guess it would look better to raise a delicate hanky to your nose than a Sharpie.

Anyway, I really do applaud you for capturing what goes on in our minds as we somehow manage to talk on. I guess that happens when we are in one on one conversations too. It's just that those little voices seem louder and more devilish when you're giving a speech. I'd bet that 99% of your audience (including the sprits of bygone authors) couldn't have done what you did with as much charm. (I keep thinking of that Bridget Jones movie - where she gave a little speech. It was hysterical.)

I can't wait to see the video but it's because I want to hear what you said and not to look for the human frailties. I always love what you say, how you say it and the human-ness that lies within it.


Thanks Kristin for carrying my thoughts to Shakespeare and Company with you. I know it's not the original Shakespeare and Company, but close enough for me.
In an interview on PBS last year, the comedian Steve Martin said that in his early days he worried about the audience not laughing at his jokes, but when that started to happen he got used to it. Bookings never dipped, and eventually he became somewhat famous for not being funny. He was okay with that. Eventually he got out of the business by not accepting bookings. As Lewis Carroll said, 'It's a funny kind of memory that only works backwards.'


Congratulations Kristin on yet another feat...I hope you are treating yourself and celebrating! It is funny how our many voices talk to each other in our heads...but there is one that is the strongest and that one finds its way out of ones bouche! Have a lovely weekend!


Margaret Dennis


Well done. I think this was one of your best pieces. As I read it, I was standing there with you. What a gift you have for words.

I wish I could join Suzanne in Brooklyn when Jean-Marc is there. I guess I will just have to wait until September in Provence. Not a bad thing to wait for!

Margaret in semi-spring Durham, NC. That could all change tomorrow!

Arnold Hogarth

Very cute story. Another triumph . . way to go. Public speaking ranks at the top of human fears. You sweat, I sweat, we all sweat. It's major pressure - but, as we know - it's pressure that makes the diamond.
Really wish I could have been there . .
My best to you . . .

Lee Isbell

I am laughing at the mental image of Kristin sniffing a Sharpie. Thanks, Karen. Can't wait to see the video.


Désaxé...great word! I will file that away!


Bravo, brava, kudos, whatever! You deserve them all. I too love your desaxe photo of "cott Fitzgerald" and half of Kristin and a peak of Notre Dame. Memories for a lifetime were made that night!
Jeanne in Ohio

Cathy from Ashland, OR

LOL. This is great! The picture desaxe is great too. In the F. Scott poster there are also dotted lights!
Is this not so true how our minds can work so magnificently while in front of people.
I work for a theatre and at times MC things, and it's the same for me. While I'm saying Good evening, my mind is saying :oh look at all these people,
stop talking so fast, remember to tell them where the bathrooms are and doe smy fat stomach show etc etc....
You have such a way with story. Bravo

Barbara Epplett

Your words are lovely, and so vivid! I wish I could have been there to hear you in person, you have a magnificent style.
Barbara Epplett, Eugene, Oregon


Thank you for the beautifully written detail of how you felt that day. Even the best and most experienced speakers get nervous. I get nervous when I have to stand in front of other Paramedics, and especially Doctors and Nurses to teach them Advanced Cardiac Life Support. It can be very intimidating, no matter how much you know the material, and I am not a speaker at all.

I too am looking forward to the video as well. I am sure everyone loved you.

Have a wonderful day!


william j hegner

just joined your site.just what the doctor ordered to re-kindle my efforts to learn french after procrastinating for so long.


Bienvenue, William! You are sure to find a warm and welcoming community here.

Happy weekend to all and please know that your comments have been the best ending to this week.


Linda Chandler

Dear Kristin, your recounting tale made me cry. I suffer from the same disease, and I know what it takes to get over it. It takes courage, and you have that in great abundance. I can't wait for the video. Congratulations. You looked wonderful, by the way. Linda in AZ

Karen from Phoenix, AZ

WAY TO GO KRISTIN! I know you were among friends and did wonderful. I too cannot wait to see the video.

Robert Wildau

The way you transcribe the voices in the back of your head is really charming. Your audience is transfixed by your apparently successful struggle with the demons of stage fright, all while bringing us along on your journey. Bon courage as you forge ahead.


monday miracle!... and the greatest thing for me is your awearness (sp?) of it and your honesty to share it with us. Loved this post!
Muchas gracias!
Andrea @ Austin, TX


What a beautiful composition -- the wonderful poster to the left of the picture frame -- Scott Fitzgerald --hinting at being in a book lovers -literary circle in a salon In the middle starry light reflection through the window with hints of Paris - the Notre Dame, and the rippling River Seine below,
And then (you) Kristen, the main attraction for the evening,

How Simply Divine,

Hi make me laugh so....public speaking is such a hard place to be as we feel so vulnerable up on the stage while our audience is able to hide among themselves! We, your little community here, are all proud of you...and probably feel better you than us! Best congrats to you!

Marianne Rankin

Kristin, as long as we live we will get "butterflies." I think sometimes this happens in new situations. I have been "on stage" in various ways over the years, but a couple of weeks ago got a bad case of nerves when I was a "room supervisor" for standardized testing. I had a roomful of hgh-school students taking tests that could affect their entrance to college. They had to be perfectly timed, materials handed out and collected in the exact same order, and so on and so forth. I'd never done it before, had no real training, my ride to the place was late, etc. etc. But as soon as I started, I just took it page by page and test by test.

I've found - and I think you discovered with your speech at Shakespeare and Co. - that if we focus on what we have to do, or say, or sing - our presentation - we can think about that, and not about ourselves, runny nose or whatever. It is truly a milestone that you were able to keep talking in the midst of seeking a hankie and avoiding microphone cords. Now that you know you can do it, you will have more confidence for the next time.

They say you can pick a person in the audience and speak to him/her - but before long, you will be addressing the whole group.

Regardless of whether the video images are desaxe, I'm sure your friends in Le Coin Commentaires will be eagerly awaiting your speech. I know I am.

Pat Cargill

Dear Kristin, this is one of your best offerings...the mind chatter, well said. We can be so hard on ourselves, feed our fears, blah,blah, but YOU, you have gone out and done it--stepped into the public arena and been yourself and told your story. Obviously, it was well received and we absent bloggers eagerly await the video to share in it. (Since we could NOT BE in PARIS at Shakespeare & Co.!!! with you, sob, sob...) Congrats. Bon voyage, J-M, wishing you much success on your Spring Tour USA.

Ray Pizarro

I don't know where to begin to tell you how much I enjoy this site. In the short period of time that I've been a member, I have an incredible sense of enjoyment. Thank you very much for bring this site to our lives.

Jimm Hughey

Dear Kristin, I hope that you are smiling, inside and out...for all your victories, big and small. This may be one of your best and most insightful biographical moments. As a coach (business/people) I know that it takes courage to be aware of the committee that lives in our head, especially when we are in front of an audience. Courage you have aplenty. Meri Mille-Fois for sharing France and your life.

Devra Long

Merci for sharing these special times with us; I feel like I was there in the back row! I used to speak at real estate conferences and once when I was ill prepared, I totally lost my train of thought during the speech and had to start all over again; I thought I would die right then, but the audience was so forgiving.
Your audience was as delighted as we are!

Karen in Towson, Md. USA

This has been in my head all day so I HAD to share it.

Karen in Towson, Md. USA

Newforest: Thanks so much for the helpful vocabulary today. I love the formality of the way the French refer to a joke. And I can not wait to use "Mouche-toi!" on my son instead of shoving the tissue box in his face. :o')


Avez-vous la date de votre prochaine présentation ? Tous vos fans doivent l'attendre avec impatience !
Vous êtes maintenant une vraie PRO et finie la transpiration ...
Votre créativité épistolaire est vraiment remarquable. Tous vos lecteurs vous admirent et ce, à juste titre. ENCORE BRAVA !!!


Saturday afternoon, 6th March 2010
from the South of England,
opposite the Isle of Wight,
heavy sky,
first daffodils bravely smiling,
sky trying to get through as I am typing...

Hello everyone,

I just read Nadine's post... and would like to say that, before thinking about Kristin's next event at "La Librairie Shakespeare & Co", go and have a look NOW at the most inspiring photo taken in front of it last Monday. Kristin would be too humble to say it's one of the most beautiful photo of herself. It is the last photo of the gallery. It says everything about her smile and her dream - and more! You've got to see it. Look also at the one before last, showing the delightful shopwindow announcing her talk, then go back again to the last photo, and you will appreciate it even more.

Robin Katsaros,
Thanks for the photos in the last 2 newsletters, but more particularly, for that marvellous photo of Kristin shown today in Cinéma Vérité ... and bless you for the fantastic message about 'Life' painted on the walls in your Paris apartment.
The message can now be shared by all of us, thanks to the photo taken by Kristin and offered in Cinéma Vérité today. Un très très grand merci.

Karen, I can hear you saying to your son:
"Allez mouche-toi!"
"Voilà ..."

Sun still trying very hard - on and off - but more often off than on... Just now, back to a light grey sky... Byyyyye!

aaron b

Bonjour -
re "désaxé" : just to mention that the French title for the movie "The Misfits" was "Les désaxés"...

Karen in Towson, Md. USA

I agree, Newforest. If there are readers who have not subscribed to Cinema Veriti, I have to say that they are missing out. I love getting that special format from Kristin as it takes us many more steps closer to life in France through Kristin's eye. Many Saturdays, I'll look at the photos over and over throughout the day and just dream. And then on Saturdays - like today - it feels like I'm seeing A Day in the Life of Kristin - which is always a pleasure to experience.


Karen, there is another point to add here. As "Cinéma Vérité" comes weekly, we have not only a few moments on Saturday to look at the photos over and over again, but... the whole week, until the following Saturday, when once again, our eyes, our mind, our curiosity gets something else to admire, to question, to investigate, to appreciate ...
The FWAD readers who are going to miss the last 2 photos (and specially the last one) of Kristin's Cinéma Vérité delivered today, will miss a great deal indeed!


I want to be Kristin when I grow up! :-)

Seriously, congratulations on overcoming such a fear of public speaking. That is awesome! I wish we lived close enough to pop over to Paris to hear you talk!

joie  carmel,ca

First, I managed to take and drop speech in college 4 times! And not because of bad grades! So, I applaud you!

That last bit had the makings for either a humorous novel, or story of perhaps a year in the life of an ex-pat living in France...think about it!

Karen in Towson, Md. USA

Exactement, Newforest.

Robyn Daniels

I suspect dear Kristin that you felt set free because your inner soul recognised that you were amongst friends and admirers -new and old - despite "les angoisses du corps". Wish I could have been there to support you too - another time - of which I'm sure there will be many now you have found your place and 'speaking voice' which is only another dimension of your inner writer's voice. xx

Douglas Ross

I was very happy to meet your husband tonight at Cleveland Park Wines in Washington. His wine dealer told me all about how healthy his wines are. I bought a case of the dentelles, which is very nice. I think I remember these mountains when we were in Provence. The rose is very nice too. I was glad to have this opportunity.

Take care. I love your writing.


Ophelia Paine

A late BRAVO!!! Am sure you were terrific!! And you are a true and gifted writer....

BTW, I gave your most recent book to a friend who just told me she LOVES it and is re-reading it. :)

Kristin Espinasse

So encouraged by your feedback, Ophelia. Hello to your friend. Hope she signs up and joins us here :-)

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