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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Adorable Anecdotes, continued

I should write about this, both to share, and remind myself some of the good times. My favorite time with T is no doubt right before bed, after he's all diapered up, and we're reading together. Now that I speak French well enough, oftentimes I take French books and just translate them into English and make up the parts I don't understand. I don't think he cares that much, I think he just likes to be held and paid attention to.

Anyway, tonight he was playing with Pokemon cards, so I picked up this Civilisations book, which was in French, and started reading it. He saw me looking at it so he asked me to read parts to him. I let him pick a page.

He asked me if we could read about "the France" and I showed him the section about Rome, as it was geographically the closest section in the book (which was ANCIENT civilizations, I guess I should specify). He then picked the page about Christianity in ancient Rome. I started reading to him, in English and then he stopped me. He's learning to read now, and making a surprising amount of progress. He read the first paragraph, and then looked up at me and said "But why there's nothing of lions in this?" Ah, he picked the picture because there were lions who were in a stadium and about to EAT Christians. I explained this to him, and he looked up at my confused and asked "But, the emperor didn't care about Jesus?" Not quite, kiddo.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

La Vie Quotidienne

Normal weekend morning scene--
T in blood covered pyjamas running around the kitchen making racoon-like noises, followed by Creche (nativity scene) playing, and exploision noises, as baby Jesus gets airlifted by the three kings.

Just another normal day in Chez Française.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Things That Bring Me Pleasure

Besides forcing my two year old to listen to country, there are other things that I enjoy in life. I will recount what happened to me, about an hour ago:

I saw A, for roughly fifty minutes. He has a lot going on in his life, so I understandingly allowed him to leave me to go back to Paris to go bed. As I was dropping him off at the train, I saw a girl running to the train, which had "approched." I regonized her as someone I had met at La Clef, my school. She's Mexican, and we've spoken a couple of times and I've tried to hang out with her but she works a disgusting amount of hours. Anyway, as she ran up the stairs I was chanting at her "Corre, corre, corre!" After a second, we realized she had missed her train. I asked her if she knew when the next one (sure it was in an hour) and she said about thirty minutes. We looked at the screen and realized it would be an hour, so I offered her a ride to the next train station.

I would love to take this opportunity to bitch about public transit, but i won't. Rather, I want to talk about how happy speaking Spanish makes me. Maybe I was relaxed from seeing A, but I just switched into Spanish with her, no problem. I'm not sure how intelligible I was with her, she may or may not have given me several blank looks, but it felt good to just pick up a language with someone, and just talk.

Now I know what the Swedes, Germans and Dutch feel like.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Health Care

A difference of opinions:

Thirty something, upper middle class, mother of four-"I don't want them to give me the generic prescriptions, even though they are cheaper. I think they do more research on taste and stuff, and the name brand ones are just better. Besides, I don't pay for it, the State does."

Twenty something, poverty stricken, Au Pair-"Like, I know I have a fever and a cough of death, and haven't been out of bed in three days, but there's no point in going to the doctor. I don't feel like paying the visit and all the prescriptions. I'll just get better on my own."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hospitality and Cultural Differences

I went to London for Christmas this year. I stayed in a place called Leyton (read, cité) with Spaniards, Frenchmen, and Italians. I was the only English speaker, and I adapted by speaking either French or Spanish and a smattering of English with the Italians. I was with my friend Tatiana, who is Spanish, and we stayed with, and follow me closely here, a friend of a friend of hers who was crashing at this sorry excuse of a house. We had bought tickets for London a month or two ago, only to find out that her friend Richi, would actually be going back to Madrid for the holidays. Fortunately, he cleared it with Alexis, his friend there and we moved in for five days.

So there are eight people who live here, with one bathroom and one kitchen. It's not so bad, if you enjoy living the hostel style life. What these people are doing here, is working to improve their English. They stick around a few months and then head back to their countries of residence.

So Tatiana and I stayed in Carlos' room, a Spanish guy who was back in, uhh, Madrid maybe? What I found interesting here--Ok, so we just took over the room. he didn't know we were there, and was kind of mad when he got back. I feel like if you did that to an American, well, you wouldn't. There's some sort of inherent respect for property, especially with a roomate. (Dont get me wrong, not everyone is like this, and this could be just the people were dealing with here, but I do feel like someone would have stepped up and said, uhh maybe you should ask him.)

What else I noticed--Everytime I asked out of politeness to taste, try, have a piece of something, I was told no, joking, obviously. Everytime. I don't know if that's American, or again just me, but you usually ask permission, right? I remember one time I went with Antoine to a restaurant and it was family style, so we shared a table with Italians. We started talking and they ordered this massive plate of cheese that they shared with us. I said, we should probably throw in some money. Antoine looked at me and said "Are you crazy? That's so rude! They offered it to us!" Ok, his continent, his rules.

But the whole time we were in that house, food, coffee, and drinks just appeared. Honestly, it made me uncomfortable. Here we are, guests, STRANGERS even, and goods are just being thrown in our direction.

It makes me wonder though, is it because I am that much of an individualistic capitalist, that I can't understand selfless propriety?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Excerpt from PARIS TO THE MOON

So in a last ditch effort to read in English, I picked up the final book--Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik. It's not really that good. In the mid 90s, Adam picks up his life from New York and moves to Paris with his wife and kid. Not very original of an idea, and to make matters worse he writes for the New Yorker. Maybe I don't hold the mental capacity to comprehend the New Yorker, or maybe it really is just pretentious literature, but I don't jive well with ANYTHING I've read in that periodical. Which is why I was hesitant to open this book, and why I still have only read a few dozen pages.

But, out of the several hundred pages of observations that I have already read from other Americans living in Paris, there is one section that I liked in particular. I'm going to semi-legally repost it here.

His son is going to a French school, and Adam, who has an anglo accent in French, imagines how embarassed his son must feel when he goes in to school.

"He recognizes that his parents, his father particularly speaks with an Accent. and this brings onto him exactly the shame that my grandfather must have felt when his Yiddish-speaking father arrived to talk to HIS teachers at a Philadelphia public school. I try to have solid, parental discussions with his teachers, but as I do, I realize, uneasily, that in his eyes I am the alter kocker, the comic immigrant.

"'Zo, how the boy does?' he hears me saying in effect. 'He is good boy, no? he is feeling out the homeworks, isn't he?' I can see his small frame shudder, just perceptibly, at his father's words. I had thought to bring him the suavity of the French gamin, and instead I have brought onto him the shame of the immigrant child."

This is pretty much how I feel when I'm talking to my kids' friends. I talk in my heavily accented French, which is thusly translated by my kids into proper French. To paraphrase my ex boyfriend's Italian speaking mother, In English, I am limitless, I can truly be myself. In French, I don't have the wide flexibility to actually say what I want to say how I want to say.