Three Weeks In


I went out to dinner with a new group of friends.

I had tartar.

With raw egg.

And frites.

And salade.

And salt.

And yum.

It rained today, but it did not bring me down.  In fact, I rather enjoyed the soft on and off drizzle that happened all day long.  Only once in a while do I find it disturbing and that is when it gets on my glasses and I cannot see and I am turned around.


Lost, yes, once again.

Barnaby called me.

“Where are you?”

“I am somewhere nearby, but totally turned around and how is that even possible, I know where I am going.”

Then I burst out laughing.

Hey, now that is an improvement.  Laughter.  Which, by the way, is how you can tell that I am American, the French women here do not laugh out loud in public.  I know they laugh, I have heard them, they have a great laugh, but it is not a public laugh, it is a private alone with friends in a room with a shut door laugh.

Then, man, watch out, they can let go.

In public, not so much.

I have laughed out loud a few times in public and I want to stuff my hand down my own throat, it is so loud.

There, I admitted it, awkwardly, but it is true, I am a loud American.  At least when I laugh.

I am also an American who is starting to sound less Americainne and more Francaise.  Not much, but a bit.  In fact, two of my dinner companions noted that my French was really quite good for just the three weeks that I have been here.

They both also said that it came down to not being afraid to make a mistake.

This is a good thing, I make mistakes all the time.

Like when I told my French teacher that there were twenty-five letters in the alphabet.


Forgot one.

But I got a good solid laugh out of Anna.

I also like how she and I can have a conversation of sorts beyond just the text in front of us.  I understand a little more than the rest of the class.  I like this.

Then again, sometimes I am just struck stupid by what is happening.  And more than a few times I have cringed, I mean out-and-out cringed at how badly some one speaks, it hurts the ears.

I am grateful for class as well for two solid hours submerged in French, where I can make mistakes and it is expected and I can practice and I can listen and I am un judgemental of my process.

I also realized yesterday that I could go quite a long time without speaking any French as well.  My room-mate is English and a great deal of the people I constantly on a day-to-day basis engage with speak English.

I also have been wearing my headphones more often.  This is good and it is bad.

It is good when the two girls on the Metro are talking loudly and with brash juvenility about their mutual “friend” back home who is not as cultured as they and where are my headphones, I need them now?

Also good for when the not so good busker comes by on the Metro or the loud bum begging for alms.  Then the head phones, a godsend.

However, I realized that they also exclude me from what is happening.  I am in my own private movie with my own private sound track and the old man with the cabbie hat slouched forward on his head and the newspaper gripped in his paw will suddenly look up at me with neon blue eyes and I have a story in my head about where he is going and what he is doing and how does this affect what stop I get off at?

I fantasize about people on the Metro.

I tell stories in my head about where they are going.

Some times when the right music is on and the night is coming and the Metro is snaking its way through the tunnels it becomes a little Science-fiction fantasy movie.

I quite entertain myself.

Yet, I don’t hear what is actually happening.

I like to hear what is actually going on.  The names of the Metro.  Just listening to the conductor say “Pigalle”.  I can say it better.  Or “Miromensnil”.  Now that is a word I would not have tripping off my tongue if I had not heard the voice over the speaker system.

Or “Chateau D’eau”.

Which seems like an easy one, but the quickness of it, the fleetness of the word falling out of the speaker in the corner, makes me realize that I am still chewing words while the Parisiennes around me are spitting bullets of words, the brevity, quickness, and rapidity of the words flying around me is amazing.

I need to be knee-deep in that soup of French words and sounds.

Today I left the big head phones at the house, the Skull Candy’s that completely muffle me into my own little fantasy land of Paris.

I let myself listen to what was happening.

Yes, I pulled out my little ear buds for a moment or two, but for the most part, I let myself drift in and out of the words.

God, I love me some words.

English words, French words, les bon mots.

I am so grateful to be here.

“Wow! You are really doing it.  You are really lucky, we all are really lucky,” he said expansively as we crossed the wet slick shined streets near L’Opera.  “Most people they don’t do what we do, they don’t leap.  Oh, they think about it, but they are too scared.”

“I am scared too,” I said, with a laugh, “but I am know that I can walk through it, and voila, je suis la.”

Which in French is equivalent to “je suis presente,” I am here.

I am present.

Oh, yes the fucking hell I am.

I am totally present.

Je suis la.

En Paris.

I don’t think you need a translation for that.

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2 Responses to “Three Weeks In”

  1. AlexJB Says:

    “I am still chewing words while the Parisiennes around me are spitting bullets of words, the brevity, quickness, and rapidity of the words flying around me is amazing.”

    *Love* that phrase. Spot on. It’s yummy to chew on French, though. Roll it around the brain and do that slurpy thing that’s supposed to draw air across and let the flavors really sing.

    But Parisiennes are like word machine guns sometimes!

    • auntiebubba Says:

      That idea I got from my French teacher Anna, she was trying to show a fellow student how to pronounce a set of words and she did this chewing motion, and that was it!

      Thanks for reading, it pleases me to no end to know I have people out there supporting my writing.


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