Thursday, August 22

Starting to miss home.

I need a haircut so bad. Can't stand it anymore. Maybe this afternoon I'll be brave and visit a coiffeur.

Urgence! The Internet connection in my apartment went down for an hour or so. I was starting to panic. But now it's back. So while it was out I swept my apartment floor. Doesn't take long when you only have 17 square meters!

I'm finally getting to the point where the novelty is wearing off a bit and I'm beginning to miss my house and my kitchen and my clothes dryer and my nice new bathroom (almost forgot about that!) and all those other luxuries back home. Oh, and my kids and the cats too, of course. Oui, la vie quotidienne est banale, mais ces petites choses sont importantes! And no, strangely enough given how much TV I watch at home, I haven't missed that at all here, and still don't. And need I say that I don't miss my car either?

While we were walking to the pâtisserie yesterday after class, I was talking to Selin about missing the kids, cats, kitchen, and my nice sound system for music. She asked if I missed my TV shows, but I didn't understand her in either French or English, a problem I have with lots of the younger kids in class. So she whipped out her iPhone, launched her dictionary app, typed in the word for "TV series" in Turkish, got the English translation on her screen, and showed it to me. Finally, comprehension! I thought this was pretty funny and cute, but it's actually rather typical for conversations here to proceed in this fashion.

Also talked a bit to Wee Ling on that walk. She and Jordi are still looking for a new apartment, I'm afraid it's not an easy process for them. Wee Ling came to Paris from Shanghai and Hong Kong. Jordi has lived in many different places around the world, including China and Africa. So interesting!

While waiting for the train to come back home with Deo and Raquel I talked about how I'm ready for the class to end. Each day I find myself thinking more about my trip up to Normandy and my week with the kids and yes, even my return to Chicago. All good things must come to an end, and I don't think I'll really be all that sad to leave Paris and go home (well, a little bit sad, of course!) And we talked too about how hard our class is (always talk about that!). I figured out that in terms of the number of classroom hours, this 8 week class is the equivalent of a full year in my schools back home. That's intense.

I love to cook so much at home and make dinners for my family and friends. And I like to try to make French recipes. Then I went to that lecture on French gastronomy and got all excited. Then I got the insane idea that it would be fun to cook a full four course traditional French meal for my friends in my apartment here. Mentioned the idea to Deo and Raquel and being the sweeties that they are they immediately offered to help and host it in their large apartment. Then I calmed down, got some sleep, and came back to my senses. I'd have to go out and buy expensive cookware because my pots and pans aren't adequate. And other stuff too, like measuring cups and spoons and all sorts of other things. And I've posted pictures of my kitchen here. Can you imagine? What was I thinking? They all need to come to Chicago some day, and I'll have a big party and do it right. For Paris, maybe a slightly more sane idea would be to all go out to a nice restaurant next week and celebrate our summer in Paris and the end of our class. Makes more sense!

Sometimes this place goes to my head a bit and I find that I'm not always thinking clearly. Not a bad thing, I guess!

Rue Montorgueil, where we went yesterday, is fabulous. Here's a description from Wikipedia:

Rue Montorgueil (French pronunciation: [ʁy mɔ̃tɔʁɡɛj]) is a street 
in the 1st arrondissement and 2nd arrondissement (in the 
Montorgueil-Saint Denis-Les Halles district) of Paris, France. 
Lined with restaurants, cafés, bakeries, fish stores, cheese shops, 
wine shops, produce stands and flower shops, rue Montorgueil is a 
place for Parisians to socialize while doing their daily shopping. 
At the southernmost tip of rue Montorgueil is Saint-Eustache Church, 
and Les Halles, containing the largest indoor (mostly underground) 
shopping mall in central Paris; and to the north is the area known 
as the Grand Boulevards.

See those funny symbols for French pronunciation? I learned all of those in my phonetics class! Haven't quite mastered them yet, though. :-)

On our way home yesterday we walked though that Les Halles shopping mall on our way to the Châtelet train station. Long walk. We thought it would never end. That train station is so huge, like an underground airport terminal. We had to take two different very long moving sidewalks and go up and down endless stairways before we finally got to the ligne 7 train platform. It was a bit spooky.

Les Halles is indeed underground. We were trying to find the train station. Found a sign that said "métro, level -4".

For the French, the ground floor is level 0. The next floor up is level +1, the 1st floor, and so on. The basement is level -1, and so on. As a mathematician and computer programmer, this very much appeals to my sense of how things should be done. Well done, French people.

At the party last weekend I was talking to Joel about our class. I think I said something like it was good for me to be so challenged and not be the best student in the class like I always was in my math classes when I was young. Or something like that. It is indeed good for me, I think, although of course I'd prefer to be doing better than I am. That's always a given.

In French, "jean" is "jean". Except it's singular in French: "un jean", not "a pair of jeans". Which makes sense. A "pair of jeans" has 2 legs, but not 2 jeans. Which leads me to also wonder why "underpants" is plural in English. But the garbage guys are making their morning racket outside my window and it's starting to get light outside, which is my signal to go take my shower. When I'm done, I'll put on my underpant and a jean, my shoes (pl!) and socks (pl!), and un polo à manches courtes (1 shirt, 2 sleeves).

Other oddities from this weeks vocabulary:

a man's shirt = une chemise (feminine)
a woman's shirt (blouse) = un chemisier (masculine)
a jacket = un blouson (does not mean "blouse", see above)
a man's suit = un costume (does not mean costume as in "halloween costume")
a woman's suit = un tailleur (also means "tailor")
a pair of women's leggings = a pair of men's boxer shorts = un caleçon (same word!?)
a vest = un gilet
a sport coat = une veste (does not mean "vest", see above)
a bathrobe = un peignoir
a dress = une robe (does not mean "bathrobe", see above)
a sock = une chaussette
woman's slip = une combinaison
men's briefs = un slip (does not mean "slip", see above)
boxers or briefs? = caleçon ou slip?
really, bermuda shorts in winter? = vraiment, un bermuda en hiver?

Confused yet?

Another one:

la manche = the sleeve
la Manche = the English Channel
le manche = the handle, like of a knife

I suppose if you squint at a map the English Channel might look a bit like a sleeve. But really?