10 March 2008

09 mars (say "nuhf mahrs")

This week went by quickly.

I can’t even remember if anything crazy important happened. It was just class as normal. There’s demon lady class, aka étude de la langue, which is taught by a really nice lady with a really poo-minded teaching style. We hate it.

Ok, I guess I could talk about my schedule. I have an easy schedule. Easy. Monday and Wednesday I start at 10h30 and I’m done at 15h30. Tuesday is from 12h30 til 15h30, and Thursday is from 8h15 til 15h30. Friday is Jesus-loves-me day, which means that I don’t have class. But even though I don’t have class I almost always end up at CIREFE for the afternoon. I go to the building at 12h30 to eat with my friends. I mean, what else would I do? They give us these food tickets to use during the week, and I might as well use them. If I didn’t head to the university to hang with my peeps, I would just be at home, and that’s silly and feels weird. I always feel like if I’m at home I have to be doing something. I can’t just sit around unless I’m in my room with my door closed.

Not having class on Friday means that I have three-day weekends every weekend. My friends say that they hate me because of this. I tend not to believe them, because they still hang out with me after classes. Strange.

It sure would be nice if Pierre would fix our wifi. I’ve already asked and I’m pretty sure he’ll do something about it, but I don’t want to keep asking, as if it’s the only thing that I think about. My mom said that I could use her computer for internet, but there’s this tiny thing called Skype that I want to be able to use, even to be able to talk to Jessica and Mark and Sophia while we’re all sitting in our rooms every night.

My life truly has become at least la moitié pathetic. Halfway pathetic. The last bus from St. Grégoire to Rennes is at 21h23. The last bus from Rennes to St. Grégoire is at 21h34. Does anyone else see the humor in this? I can’t even go out to dinner with my friends during the week without either taking a taxi, walking home, or taking a different bus which only goes about .67 of the way home. Actually, I’ve been planning on trying that. Usually I take the 18, but the 2 runs up the same road. I think the rest of the walk would be about 15 minutes, but I want to check it. I’d just rather not do it alone the first time.

Seriously, my life here is very much parallel to my life in Arvada, with reference to going to classes in Boulder. At least in Colorado I had a car. My parents asked me if my life in France was really different from my life in the states and I started laughing. Not really, I said. They were surprised, I think they were expecting a completely different answer. Except for the fact that I eat bread and drink wine with almost every meal save breakfast, and that I go to bars with friends, my two lives are very much the same.

Rien ne change, as my mère says. Nothing changes.

I bought a new jacket two days ago. I’ve been using Ariel’s navy blue wool coat, which has been fantastic, but it’s been getting progressively warmer, and the coat doesn’t fit me as well as other things might. So I gave in on Friday afternoon and went with Jessica to the mall. The mall here is funny. I mean, it’s a mall, there’s no question about that. But there aren’t department stores. It’s all small boutiques. And when I say small, I mean, sometimes you wonder how you’re supposed to fit more than 10 people in the store at one time. It would be impossible. You walk in, you say hello. Unless it’s a larger store, then you treat it more like you’re in the states, and don’t say anything.

The store I bought my jacket from, however, looked a lot like a TJ Maxx. The prices looked like Nordstroms, however. Ouch. The style here is army-tinted, and I found a really cute white-khaki jacket for 35E. I almost bought a red one. I almost did. But I figured that I would be wearing it every day, and red was maybe too loud. I love my jacket. I wore it yesterday, with my red scarf and my red shoes, and I looked very French. Apparently.

We were in centre ville, waiting for a movie time to come around (17h05, for There will be Blood…wow). We were walking toward a boulangerie at Place St. Anne which makes the most beautiful duo chocolate cookies I have ever tasted. It makes me sad that a French bakery would be better at an American specialty than America, but hey. It’s 1,50 for a cookie the size of my face and when it’s warm you just want to die with joy. Just when we were walking up to the door, we heard someone yell, “HEY AMERICANS!” Oh no…I recognized the voice, and started laughing to myself. Mark said later that he hadn’t realized who it was at first and his only thought had been “How is it always so freaking obvious?”

It was John. Oh, John. John is 27. He’s in the master’s program here. His French is practically perfect, and he does the slang to boot, which makes us all feel like idiots. So why was he yelling at us? Oh, he was drunk. DRUNKdrunkdrunk! I actually find drunks to be entirely amusing, so I just laughed during the conversation. I think Jessica and Sophia were a little horrified. Mark was laughing, too. John’s a nice guy, but he’s just….yeah. He’s one of those people. “He’s nice but.”

He invited us to come drink with him. He’d had class from 8 til 11 (and it was Saturday, mind you) and straight from class he and his classmates had gone to the bar and started drinking. Four hours of drinking makes a guy really loud and happy, but of course has no bad effects on his French. Maybe if I were drunk all the time, my French would improve…nah. That’s waaaaaaaay too expensive.

The movie was good. Creepy. Unsettling. But Daniel Day Lewis deserved his Oscar, just like No Country for Old Men deserved its own. Amazing and phenomenal and what a pain in the butt to try to describe in French…oh man. Impossible. I couldn’t do it. I tried so hard, but I had to resort to just expressions and moving my hands around. I think they’re used to not getting full explanations, though, so it was ok, I guess. I just wish I could get the hang of talking about how movies make me feel.

Last night after dinner we watched a French movie that Pierre and Lola had brought with them, Je vais, ne t’en fais rien I think was the title. “I’m going, don’t do anything.” I think. It was beautiful. It’s about a girl who comes back from vacation to find that her twin brother has disappeared, but her parents won’t tell her what happened or when. She falls into a really deep depression and starts starving herself, and then she gets a postcard from her brother talking about how he had to get out of the house and he’s traveling France and to give their mom a hug but not to say anything to their ass of a father. Even then, her parents won’t tell her what happened between Loïc and her dad, but since she’s gotten word from her brother, she starts eating again. Things go from there, but I don’t want to ruin it, on the off chance that you ever have a chance to see it. It was lovely.

And now I’m sitting in my room, about to go to the living room to do homework, because when I just sit in my room sometimes I feel like I’m ostracizing myself. It can’t possibly be true, but that’s how we feel here. It doesn’t help that the French don’t really believe in open doors. Every door generally stays closed, and if it’s open it’s only because it’s in the process of being closed. The problem with this is that we’ll go into our rooms to do stuff but we still want to feel accessible, just in case. But we don’t. We feel like, by closing our doors, we’re cutting off our families.

Which is why, for the past hour or so, I’ve been debating with myself as to whether I should go work in the living room or not. I mean, it’s not like I would be doing anything different, it’s just that I would be more in the family/public area, and not just in my room. It doesn’t help that ever since my mère told me that I was much quieter than the other Americans they’d had and that made her think that I was unhappy, I’ve been really self-conscious of what I said and how much and when. I’m always wondering if I’m talking enough, if I’m replying in the right way…

I keep telling myself that if it were all in English it would be easier. I don’t know. I know for sure that my père would know that I was more intelligent. I’m getting tired of only having responses like “Yes I agree” and “I know” to offer to the conversation. It’s just that I start talking and it goes really well until one of my most crucial points and I just completely get stuffed up and all my grammaire leaves my head and I’m useless.

Life is like a tiny dose of humiliation, taken with no spoonful of sugar, every night at dinner.

There’s just always the question of how much more work should I be doing? Should I be doing something else? Would that help me to speak better? I have no idea. Maybe, maybe not. I’ve already been here more than a month, but the only changes I’ve noticed are the ones that show me how horrible my accent is. And another thing: my family doesn’t correct me. My grand-mère does, but mes parents don’t. They just sit there and let me try, sometimes looking interested, sometimes looking like they’re watching a snake hang itself with its own tongue. Car wreck fascination, I call it.

I’m kinda tired of always being so frustrated with myself, I don’t know how to handle it any more. Even now, I’m telling myself that I’ve been doing too much English. Way too much. I can know that at night, too, if when I go to bed I’m not very tired, it’s because I didn’t do enough French that day.

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