Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Dancing Days

All apologies (well really, to my pontificating self) for the absence. Limited access to the Internet prevents me from indulging in full about these adventures à Paris. In the interim since the present and previous posts, I took my first high-speed train trip, which included a weekend in London; wandered the Marais, Beaubourg, and parts of Belleville in this illustrious city; met various strangers destined to become friends, or at the very least fond acquaintances; finally (!) moved into an apartment, a surprisingly spacious place in the 18th arrondissement that's not far from the fabled Sacre-Coeur; endured the mendacity of heteronormativity by braving a trip to the Parisien-installment of IKEA; visited several more awe-inspiring national landmarks of Lutèce, including the lovely sculpture garden of Rodin; wrung my hands time and again over my inability to fully communicate with the increasingly weary merchants surrounding our home; and, last but not least, gathered together my first willing subjects for a housewarming display and homemade foodstuffs culled with grave effort from the various boulangeries and alimentations scattered up, down, and around the hill from our home.

Most momentous of all is the far-too brief time I spent in a classroom and lecture hall, re-learning French with a rather international set of students young and old at the Sorbonne, an experience I hope to repeat later this year with another set of strangers. Today marked the end of our four-weeks together, a sojourn that included confusion and hope in past, future, conditional, and imperfect tenses, all capped with loving attention to the genders of objects small and large. The connections we students made beyond the course, in and around the spirited light that's so frequently stated in Parisien texts, were what really mattered, though our dear Madame's frequent postulations and corrections were never far behind. The jardin du Luxembourg and its surrounding eateries, touristy and all, will have a place in my mind as the setting for many a crossing of minds and words all set to spiral into a voluminous display of thought. We came from places far away and removed, and who knows what came before or after these few moments of language share: the point was that we spoke.

Now, I can hardly vouch for my fluency in full, though that should be changing in the next few months. All this exercise and precision for language shifts makes me more cognizant of the grammatical excesses I excuse myself from in English. It's as though the verbage I permit myself is beginning to cross ever so slightly to thinking in French. Although I must confess: there is no rhyme or reason for calling seventy-five "soixante-quinze."


grrrbear said...

Oh, one of my favorite memories from my trip to Paris was the Rodin museum! It's gorgrous both inside and out. Also if you've never had the opportunity, head over to the Museum of Relief Maps (in Le Invalides [sp?]) and the Sewer Museum. The Louvre is nice and all but sometimes you want a museum you can tour in an afternoon...

tamasha said...

I know, French numbers used to drive me insane at their ridiculousness, but I have learned to appreciate them. Ridiculous, yes, but they make sense...

brimful said...

Though I know not a word of French, I'm still so thrilled to read this. Have you read Me Talk Pretty One Day? Granted, it's a rather light-hearted take on learning French. Still, I think it captures that 'Englishman in New York' vibe.

Can't wait to read more.

The Grande Enchilada said...

Dear Mimosa:
You may be flummoxed in French but you are such a wonderfully fluent writer! Perhaps because we were busy battling the French demons we never (until we read each other) got to bask in our own verbal dexterity. Now, in the absence of Mme. Jacqueline and her persecuting verbes and pronoms, we can delight in the language we can speak like literate adults.
Please keep on sharing la vie parisienne with us until your French is as perfect as Proust's and you can gloat about it, to our endless jealousy.



C'est moi! said...

grrbear -

Funny thing, I haven't toured the Louvre yet on this extended stay here. I will certainly keep the other musuems in mind - we often forget that the city would be nothing without its (fledgling) sewer system.

tamasha -

The weird thing is the numerations do make sense, but they also take more effort - are more cumbersome, really, than their english counterparts.

brimful -

You're really setting the markers high now. I've actually read Sedaris' memoirs, including his more recent collection Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, and I doubt I can quite command that brand of humour though it is really funny and poignant indeed. I do promise to share more language stories in due time.

Yehudit/Judy -

Ahhh, Mme. Jacqueline - such a quintessentially small Frenchwoman, no? Certainly we'll be able to share our adventures with deft phrasing, but I doubt it will be half as fun as "conjugaisons" we stumbled through initially. I'll be reading you. ;-)