I've only been here a week, but since I've been gone for almost a month, it feels like I've been living in France for a month. It's a strange feeling. I'm alone in the apartment right now; my parents are at a friend's house having dinner. I'm actually kinda glad, because I'm still tired. I feel so American right now...I'm watching Cats Don't Dance, eating a mini pizza, and drinking pop. Although, my aperitif snack did consist of an apple and camembert cheese....
I'll talk now about my parents....I love them a lot, especially my pere. His name is Michel, too. It's kinda funny sometimes when Elisabeth is talking to us at dinner; sometimes I'm never really sure if she's talking to me or to my pere. Michel used to be a flight attendant for AirFrance. He's travelled the ENTIRE world and speaks English very well. This morning when I was going back to my room from the kitchen to put my shoes on, he came in from walking the dog. He was wearing a poncho dripping with water.
"Bonjour. Il pleut?" ("Hi. It's raining?") I said.
"Oui...Bloody, bloody Friday!" He replied. Haha....I love him. He reminds me of my Uncle Phil Rudd. I don't know how many of you know Phil, but for those of you who do....Michel is always telling me something. The background of Bretagne, how California saved the French wine crops, the differences between galette and crepe bases... I love it. I love information. I can never guarentee that I'm going to remember it, but hey. The first few nights he pulled out maps for me to show me where we were and where everything else is. He loves maps. He always asks me if I even care about what he's talking about, that he'll stop any time, I just have to say so. Usually he says this when he's in the middle of explaining a news broadcast. I generally shake my head and just insist, "Non, vraiment, ca m'interesse beaucoup!" ("No, really, I think it's really interesting!")
Elisabeth is a little quieter, though when she does talk to me she talks about more personal things, like religion and how she raised her kids. She doesn't know something about everything like Michel seems to, but she's very opinionated and willing to try to understand everything. It's fun to eat dinner with the two of them (always in front of the TV, very French thing to do, apparently) and listen to the back-and-forth during the news. It's so refreshing to watch the news, then talk and argue about it. Not just walk away shaking my head. Michel actually complains that more could be said about things, even though I've noticed that the French media says a TON in comparison to the American counterpart.
Michel and Elisabeth have three sons. Philippe lives in San Fransisco with his wife (Lynette?). He's an engineer and his parents are super proud of him for leaving France. Apparently his education in France isn't enough for him to really make enough to live here. I think my pere said he could maybe make E1000 a month? Something like that? But in California, he's making the perfect amount. He's supposed to be coming in June or July with his wife, and I can tell that Elisabeth is really really excited.
Their second son, Francois, lives in Annemasse, right on the border of France and Switzerland in the Alps. I don't know what his wife's name is. I'm actually not positive right now if I don't have the two boys mixed up. It's possible. Francois is building a chalet-type house in the Alps right now. I think that's pretty sweet. The youngest son (he's 27) Pierre lives in Bretagne. His girlfriend's name is Lola. She talks really fast. Like, really really really really fast. Pierre is a kind of lawyer, but not quite. My pere told me that that's the closest description of his job that they can give me, since it doesn't really exist in the States. He's pretty cool, I guess. I don't technically expect all the friends and family of my parents to talk to me. He did ask me questions and stuff when he and Lola came for dinner. It's just that, unlike his parents, he doesn't slow down.
I don't think I ever really realized how slowly my French profs really were speaking to me and my classmates. I always knew that they toned it down at least a little, but now I know that truly it's a lot. Plus there's always the difference between understanding something and being able to hear what someone's saying. Sometimes I feel so dumb asking people to repeat things, not because I didn't or couldn't understand, but because they were speaking so softly. People here are used to confined spaces. Yelling to friends across corridors or the square is a strict no-no. There is no difference between your inside and outside voice.
The problem is that, in English, when someone says something that I didn't hear very well, or didn't catch all of, my brain is working on filling in the blanks while my mouth is asking for a repetition. In French, my brain can't really fill in the blanks yet. It tries. It tries really really hard to fill them all in. But it just can't. That's why I'm so tired. Take the wine tasting, for example. I loved the sommelier who came and spoke to us. You could just look at him tasting the wine and talking about the process and know that he was talking about one of the loves of his life. He had this way of holding the glass, taking a coup de nez (whif), and then closing his eyes as he told us about how the nose was working at that moment.
The glass was in his left hand, held just by the stem with a couple fingers. His right hand was strictly used for gesturing in tiny circles to emphasize whatever he was explaining. He was hilarious and so much fun to watch. My friend Collin and I were sitting next to one another during the entire thing, and we both were having a blast just watching the guy (especially after the first two hours, when our brains just went phpphhhhhtfffft).
I'm trying to think of what else I could say about Michel and Elisabeth....I guess I can talk a little about the apartment, actually. The Massons used to have a house in St. Gregoire, but they sold it recently because they're building a house on the coast of Bretagne, in Lorient. Michel has a string of photos patched together to show the view of the sea that they're going to have. It's pretty beautiful. So this apartment (can I just mention how hard it is to type "apartment" right now? because the French way is "appartement" and that's just so much easier for me, haha)
It's a typical French appartement. Um. By that I mean it's very simple. My mere doesn't like how all the walls are white, but that's ok since my pere is a painter. A pretty fantastic one at that. I'm in the middle of trying to upload pictures of the appart to the blog, but it's being dumb. Maybe I'll have to try again later. All the floors are this wonderful white tile that makes me think of Sims. I wear my moccasins almost every single moment I'm inside because otherwise my toes get frostbite and that's just awkward. It doesn't help that my walking shoes kinda rubbed on the back of my ankles, and now the skin there is a little raw. This happened because my socks were wet. Now I can't really wear my socks, or those shoes, because the ankle part of my socks is tight right on that one spot...and I don't know about you but I'd rather not be in pain all the time...
Anyway....yay some of the pictures are on now!
This is my living room, the one on the left is the futon. Sorry it's so dark....I took this a few days ago and didn't use a flash and really don't feel like re-doing it right now, haha.
If you look at the one on the right, you can see where I'm sitting right now. It's in the chair that's completely facing the camera. It's comfy. The dark doorway on the right is the kitchen.
I have a pic of the kitchen but I think I'll put it up later, it seriously took six minutes for the ones before, and I just don't have the patience right now.
I'll try to post some pics of my pere's paintings soon, too. I love them so much.