Again From the Francais Pour Les Etrangers Dept

So my teacher’s one of those real bitchy teachers. The kind that calls on you when you’re not paying attention just to see you squirm. Ok, let me back up, there are a few a priori problems with my class. It’s from 6:30 – 8:30, meaning i have to high tail it from work to make it on time, and that by 7 i am famished. Related to that, i’ve worked all day, so my ability to concentrate is diminished. And then, there’s that i hate group work, which we do all the time.

Last Wednesday, someone asked about how you know if a verb is an “etre verb” or an “avoir verb”, which means, in the past tense, does the verb take “to be” or “to have” as it’s precedent. Don’t worry, it barely makes any sense to me either. Anyway, the girl next to me was asking a question about it, and i was glancing at the clock (famished), and my mind started to wander. “Neille? Neille?”, Mme Claudine pokes. She asks if i have any problems with these verbs (Note that she is vague about what we are talking about because she knows i was drifting. Grrr). I actually was half paying attention so i said No, i didn’t have any problems, I mean I really hate talking out loud, even if i did have problems. She asked me how i remembered which verbs take what. I told her from “Le Maison d’Etre” which is this strange system of memorization that i learned in high school french.

So get this, then she asks me to go to the board and draw the Maison d’Etre. There are few friends of mine with whom i’ve taken high school and/or college french with that read this here blog. They know that this is My Worst Nightmare. I pleaded with her “Please, no. Please no. Please, no”. But she was set on me embarrassing myself at the chalkboard. So i gritted my teeth and did it. My face was burning with embarrassment, and i’m terrible at writing on the chalkboard to boot. It always ends up so big and sloppy. I kinda blanked out after five verbs, but luckily she had the class shouting out answers at that point, and i was just the blushing scribe. Needless to say, i’ve been considering dropping it ever since.

From Les Francais Pour Les Etrangers Dept

I left my (only half done) french homework at home this morning. It put me in a tough spot for class. If i were to go home and pick it up first, i’d be at least a half hour late. If i went without it, i’d look like a louse. Not like she collects it or anything, but you know, i’d hafta like stare at my hands or something during the exercise. So i decided to cut class since i wanted to see a movie anyway. And well, just saying that i’m cutting class is fun. I figure i ought to sign up for more classes so i can live out my being bad fantasies by skipping ‘em. Wait a second, that sounds a touch pathetic, non?

Anyhow i cut class and saw The Royal Tenenbaums (La Familie Tenenbaum, en Francais). It was in Cinema 1 in the 18 theater Cine-Cite Les Halles theaters which is the “big” theater. I’d never seen a flick there before. With it’s massive curved screen it’s slightly reminiscent of the Cineramadome in Hollywood, but without the old school kitch. Pretty awesome. I have to figure out how to see all the films playing that theater. So i thought the movie was so funny. About a half hour into it, i’d say i was giggling for the whole rest of the film. I was thinking the other day that i must just like every movie i see because it transports me back to the US. But then i saw The Shipping News last week which totally blew, and was happy to discover that i still had standards. Regardless that they may have been reduced considerably. It was also fun because the french audience was laughing a lot too. As i’ve been seeing many American movies with French audiences, i get to note the curious differences between when i laugh, and when, say, the rest of the theater does. My theory says the differences are due to equal parts cultural difference and bad subtitle translation. There must’ve been a serious cultural overlap because the audience was laughing at everything (and the subtitles were still shitty – i was paying attention).

So it’s late and i shouldn’t be up with a glass of really nice wine by my side. I’ve got a big day ahead of me tomorrow. Apparently it irritates a few of the folks if you tease-blog and mention big things without specifying, but i’m gonna do it anyway, cause that’s just the kind of tease i am. And anyway, it’ll all be out soon enough. There’s just that point where people who belong just about at arm’s length are snuggling up to the blog, so everyone suffers. Dem’s de breaks. Can i say that often enough?

A quick inventory of things:

A quick inventory of things:

- My swollen eye thing is never going to go away.

- It’s very cloudy, but mild.

- I am right now rewriting a Database Installation Guide (yuk, blech, gag)

- Microsoft Word is on a mission to torture me.

- Al Green’s singing “For the Good Times” (note: 11am is too early for Al Green)

- Feeling self-consciously sucky about my writing lately. Trying to force myself to post things so that i can “push through it” or whatever they say. But i’m not sure it’s working. I’ve started and abandoned a half a dozen posts this past week. I have been doing more web work. Maybe it’s one or the other? So what will become of it? I’m nearly finished with a migration to Movable Type. That’ll be up later today, or maybe this weekend. I want to write more considered and serious things here, but i’m kind of worried that i’ll really suck. The quick sentences about my day are like flirting with writing, the fun easy part. But flirting gets less fun the more you do it. [Sidenote: As i haven't flirted in months (with a boy, not writing), if i ever do it again, it should be so coooool]. So anyway, fear of writing commitment? I think so. Cure?

Ken Layne feels weird about

Ken Layne feels weird about being the top Ken in Google, but i bet he actually feels pretty good. Meanwhile i happen to be the top neille in google, so ha. I’m contemplating early retirement now. You know, quitting at the peak…

Even France’s culinary habits are

Even France’s culinary habits are evolving. Long lunches are out. Takeout is in. Wine consumption is plummeting.

Really??? I can only imagine what it was like before…

Note : Adding Creme Fraiche

Note : Adding Creme Fraiche to anything makes it taste good.

Who has Photoshop 7 for

Who has Photoshop 7 for OSX and wants to give it to me?

I’m now spending 4 hours

I’m now spending 4 hours a week in a Francais pour les etrangers class. That’s literally, “French for strangers”.. err.. foreigners. It’s kind of a riot. First off, i’ve never taken a class as an adult before. It’s weird. What makes it especially weird is that in this class of adults, we basically all sound like total retards. I can’t help but be reminded of Me Talk Pretty One Day only like every 5 seconds. Today our class tried to spit out the sentence, “He asked me where i was born”. Excruciating. But kind of hilarious. I spend a good deal of energy making sure i don’t start laughing out loud. And mind you i’m certainly not laughing *at* anybody, because i sound just as retarded as the most retarded sounding of my classmates. But the whole thing is just so silly if you think about it. Here’s a room of grown people, most of them gainfully employed, some with children or maybe even grandchildren, pretending to take a poll about favorite foods.

This one woman at the board was totally struggling with some verb conjugations, and rushed back to her seat all flustered before the teacher could stop her. She seemed like you know, one of those loopy old ladies. Turns out she’s a history professor in Brazil who’s published a bunch of articles. Go figure.

We have to do a lot of group work. I’ve always hated group work. Unless the boy i had a crush on was my group, which was always rare. In this case the guy sitting next to me was The Annoying Guy in the class. You know the one who shouts out the answer to every single question. The guy who mutters to himself while the teacher’s talking. Yeah. That one. So we kept having to work together. Ugh. And he kept carefully explaining and re-explaining all the instructions to me, as if not only did i have a shaky grasp of the language but i was also deaf. And to top it all off, his answers were friggin wrong. So we kept disagreeing, but mind you, in french. This made the whole exchange that much more unbearable. I decided to just let him give the wrong answers, but he kept pushing me to wholeheartedly agree with him, and i could fake agree, but not like 5 times.

So i wish i had started this class back in September. Not necessarily because i think my French will improve all that much, but because it’s reassuring to see otherwise normal people in the same communication shithole as myself.

One night back and my

One night back and my swollen eye problem returns. Maybe i’m allergic to France. Actually, i’m pretty sure it’s the fault of the heater that is an inch away from my head when i sleep. It must totally dry out my eyes. Karen said she got a rash on her chin that she suspects the heater to be involved in as well.

In either case there’s this, which sports funny headlines like, Lionel Jospin – Arsonist or Prime Minister? One can’t help but chuckle. I don’t feel so bad because the link comes straight from, a real live French person. But she has yet to discover who actually runs it. I was saying to a friend in New York actually that i feel strangely compelled defend France against the flippant remarks of my uninformed American brethren. Meanwhile i, of course, am allowed to snark about the country and the culture endlessly. No, it’s not at all fair or logical, but i have to live here and dems de breaks.

Ahh it’s 11:11 and i’m

Ahh it’s 11:11 and i’m back in Paris. The flight was only 5 hours, barely giving me enough time to gulp down my customary number of G & Ts, much less sleep. So i’m distracted and bleary eyed and at work. i can’t possibly concentrate on anything except a blog entry. Or maybe not. None of this will make much sense. I’m warning you now. And also, no coherent thought patterns. Gotta stay awake here though. And hey, a good 30 hours of awake just might cure my insomnia.

Travelling on the el cheapo tip had me train-ing it to and from both airports. Plenty of opportunities to look cinematically out the window and ponder both of my not-quite homes. It’s funny that way.

As i struggled with my suitcase on an escalator, instead of offering me a hand the woman behind me glared at me. “Welcome back to Paris, capital of good neighborliness” i thought to myself. Perhaps she had planned a very serene escalator ride for her morning commute. Nothing like trudging through the 8am rush hour metro traffic to welcome you home. But no really. Very strange that i should be sandwiched in between hoards of nyc schoolkids on their way home on the A train, and then not a day later squeezing by grumpy Paris commuters on the RER. And feeling pretty at ease in both cases. Well maybe not at ease, but on public transportation auto pilot, ya know. And it’s possibly maybe spring here. And due to a crisis or two, Karen’s been staying in my Paris apartment and i walked in to find it looking like someone actually lived there. There were flowers and plants, and food on the counter and even stuff in the fridge too. It was kind of disconcerting. I was used to my place looking like i moved in yesterday (and my stuff hadn’t arrived yet). It’s nice, i think, but weird really. Unrelated to that, I’ve never considered myself a stuff minimalist, but i think i might be.

New York was pretty excellent. It was hard to leave. Most everything on my stress list worked out well. Except that i got a bunch of strange skin rashes. They are all on the healing side of the curve at least. And i’m sure i put on some pounds considering every single thing i ate was greasy or fried with the exception of one turkey sandwich. Okay and granola for breakfast, it was getting dire. Like when you order spinach on the pizza cause you just need to at least see a few greens. Anyway, the generally poor American eating habits are making me feel a bit sluggish i think. Not sure i would have even noticed the lack of actual food in my diet a year ago. I spent an insane amount of money. The kicker being, not one, but two pairs of shoes i bought in the span of 3 blocks and 15 minutes. I’ve never had buying stuff make me feel so guilty before. It may be because i’ve been *not buying* anything so strictly that i’ve forgotten how to do it when i actually need to. But these two weren’t exactly needed. Well one pair was for a wedding, but what i spent on them was definitely not needed. Oh well. Even though this fear of buying sounds good, i’m not sure it is. It sounds like a recipe for more stress skin rashes.

Maybe more later.