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  • When I feel the need for a lasting cup of coffee, I usually go to Starbucks. The tiny French espressos can't measure up to the joy of a freshly brewed cup that's large enough to last through a few pages of a good book.

    Starbucks has a policy of asking for your name when you order a hot beverage, and this caused some frustration during my first weeks in Paris. For reasons not obvious to me, the French struggle to comprehend my name, and I therefore decided to change it to Marie (a simple, French name) when ordering my tall Americano. Unlike Lín, who is invariably forced to repeat her name several times, very slowly, before finally giving in and spelling it out with exaggerated French pronunciation (and still being handed a cup with the name Lily or Liane), Marie comes across as effortlessly cool and can pass for a chic parisienne without difficulty.

    My sister, whose name is even more complicated than mine, also enjoys this game. She'll choose a different name each time, and this has inspired me to give Marie a rest and take on more exciting imaginary personalities; classic divas, such as Greta, Ava, Katherine, Audrey, or Grace... I still have to spell it out, but I don't mind. Being able to say "Je m'appelle Grace, comme Grace Kelly" just makes it so much more fun to order a cup of coffee, especially when they call your name, usually with a smile and a wink; "Un tall café Americano pour Grace!"

    Today, celebrating the International Women's Day, my sister and I both chose the same name. "Simone, comme Simone de Beauvoir."
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