Going to bed at 11 and getting up at seven isn’t doing it for me. I’m going to try to go to bed a little earlier. I had more than enough time to get ready and make it to breakfast by eight (that’s going to get harder next week when I have oral expression at 9:00 instead of at 11:45), so maybe I can sleep in a little more, but that’s probably not the best idea. I wish I could have a little bit of fruit with my breakfast, but that’s not the custom here.
I hurried down to l’Institut to Skype the boyfriend. Something was going on with my sound, so I couldn’t hear him with my headphones in. Because of where the WiFi zone is, I can’t talk, so I guess it kind of worked out… It was really nice to at least see his face, and he’s the first person I’ve been able to Skype since I’ve been in France. I told him about how upset I am at myself for how poorly I’m doing in class. He tried to tell me that everyone makes mistakes (last time I checked, my name isn’t “everyone”), and the teachers (at least) expect me to make mistakes, even if I make a lot of them, because I’m learning a new language. When it comes to what my classmates think of me, I really shouldn’t care, because they have nothing to do with my grade (I agree). I worked on the subjunctive exercises I didn’t have time to do last night before class while I “talked” to him.
I faired a little bit better in class today than I did yesterday. I managed to conjugate everything properly on the paper, but I’d somehow had all of the expressions mixed up… Here we go with everyone in class thinking I’m an idiot again… Joan joked that everyone in class probably thinks I come to class hung over every day since I’m making mistakes like this. The other exercise with finding synonyms that Fabian said wasn’t obligatoire yesterday kind of turned out to be. He gave us a few minutes to do it in class, but I wasn’t exactly sure he’d be okay with me getting out a dictionary to do it, let alone one that was on my iPod. I tried my best to stumble through it, and I think he’s starting to pity me, so he doesn’t call on me nearly as much. During the break, I pulled out my iPod dictionary and blasted through the “find the opposite” matching exercise before we went back into the class room. Fabian called on a few people more than once before he ever called on me, and I can’t decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing. When he did call on me, I got the answer right, so that was good. The last exercise was to come up with two problems (real or not), and ask as many of our classmates for advice as possible, kind of like the speed dating exercise. Fabian wanted us to write down what advice we got to show him we’d done something, but some of the students didn’t write anything down at all. I came up with some creative problems (I didn’t want to just say “I drink too much”). One was that I like reading, but I obviously can’t carry my books around with me. The other was that I have trouble sleeping. One girl said she’s too mean. My advice to her was to think twice before she makes a comment about someone (I added that I hoped and thought that her problem wasn’t actually true). Some of the advice people gave me was amusing. Most people told me to get a Kindle, or something like that, one person told me to read advertisements for things on the streets instead of books! The sleeping issue got some really creative answers, like wake up at four in the morning and don’t nap for a day (that one was from Fabian), or (this one sounds like an accidental suicide) drink a glass of wine, eat some cheese, and take an Ambien. No homework (obligatoire or implied) today. I’ll practice speaking more subjunctive stuff at home, and maybe read over some conjugations.
We talked about the holidays and traditions of America and France, and superstitions in oral expression today. I was still a little bummed from the language class, so I was the last one to speak up today (past mumbling agreement with things). When we got to the subject of Christmas, Mme. Geai ironically asked BOTH of the Jewish girls to tell her about it. It was pretty hilarious. She apologized and said she’d ask them about Jewish holidays later on. I realized after class that I should have talked about the Scottish Play superstition in class! I know all the proper words in French to explain how it works, too! In theatre, if/when someone says Macbeth in an actual theatre, everyone has to run outside, turn around three times, and spit to get rid of “the curse of Macbeth.” That’s why most theatre people just call Macbeth “The Scottish Play” all the time.
Instead of going to Carrefour today, a big group of us wanted to go out to eat, specifically to a crêperie which kind of worried me, but I went. I figured I could find somewhere else to eat if I had to. The one we wanted to go to was closed, but there was one with that also served salads close by. Of course, I was the only one that ordered a salad… This was the first time I’d eaten out since coming to France, and I haven’t printed out those quick-reference gluten-free cards yet, so I figured I should tell the waiter about my gluten-free thing. It’s not hard, all I had to say was “no bread for me, please, I’m on a gluten-free diet.” In America, you say that, and the waiter has no idea what you’re talking about, so they inquire further because they have to. The salad I was ordering didn’t come with croutons, and there wasn’t any explicit notification that it came with bread on the side, but I didn’t want him to bring any for me and not have me touch it (and then think I was rude). When I ordered, I told him what I wanted and said (in French) “no bread for me, please, I follow a gluten-free diet, and I can’t eat it.” He was kind of shocked and said “okay, there wasn’t going to be any bread served with the salad anyway, and I understand your concern, but that’s not something you just… say. That’s a private matter.” I said “Ah, I didn’t understand, thanks for letting me know.” and he took everyone else’s order. I’m pretty sure no one else caught what had happened. Of course, that interaction scares the living daylights out of me. It’s one thing when it’s just “don’t waste your bread that might be on the side of my salad,” but it’s another thing when it’s “don’t put any flour in the sauce that goes on top of my fish because it will make me sick.” If every waiter I deal with is going to tell me “thanks for telling me something I didn’t want to know about you, you gross American with your eating problems” when I try to order something… what am I supposed to do instead?! Of course, this waiter was decently polite about it, but that’s not to say every waiter (especially in Paris) will be. I mean… everything I’ve read said “tell your waiter that you can’t eat gluten.” It didn’t say your waiter was going to tell you TMI (too much information)! Obviously, running around screaming “I’M ON A DIET” or “LOOK AT ALL OF THE HEALTH PROBLEMS I HAVE” is not something you do anywhere, and I think that’s how this waiter interpreted it, but I still felt really stupid… The fact that he spoke English whenever he had to deal with me made it worse (he said “finished?” instead of “fini?”). This experience has kind of made me not want to eat out ever again… certainly not without printing out those cards…
Suzannah had her meeting with Mme. Parnet, then we went on an adventure to find the post office so we could buy stamps to send off some post cards. We got all kinds of lost, but found our way soon enough (I’d say after an hour is soon enough). I bought about 20 stamps, so that should be enough for all of the cards I’ve bought for the time being. We went back to the school, then I headed home. I stopped by un tabac to buy some more credit for my French phone. It’s been about a week since I’ve been out of the US, it’s about time for me to officially switch to that phone. I’ve added the credit to it, so once I get the Twitter part switched over, I’ll turn off my American phone, and use just the French one.
Once I got back home, there was a woman that beat me there and open the bottom door. Entrez? I was so confused. It’s easier for Madame to have me ring the door bell on the bottom floor, then open her door. I said non, merci, had her shut the door, and rang the bell for Madame. I walked to the middle of the door to push it open when Madame remotely unlocked it, and the woman walked back out from the elevator area and kind of gave me a look like, “girl, what is wrong with you…” Madame “let me in,” and the other woman was waiting for the elevator, so I walked up the stairs, and the thought occurred to me that the other woman might be Madame’s neighbor across the hall, and that would be really awkward when she gets out of the elevator… AND SHE WAS. So I went inside the apartment, said bonjour to Madame (since it was still bonjour time when I got home), put my things down, and talked to Madame for a bit:
“Tu connais votre voisine, n’est pas?”
You know your neighbor, right?
“Oui, bien sûr.”
Yes, of course.
“Je pense qu’elle pense que je suis folle…”
I think she thinks I’m crazy…
Then I told Madame what had happened. She laughed and said that had I gone into the building with her neighbor, it would have worked just fine since she was expecting me around that time, and knocking on the door would have surprised her, but I could have explained. Thankfully, Madame’s neighbor is sweet, and will understand why I’m such a goober if we ever meet again. After that, I attempted to practice my subjunctive and made a pretty big manner-related faux pas. I tried using the subjunctive to ask Madame if this was a good time for me to take my usual shower, but I basically said “it’s necessary that I take a shower.” She made a face, and said, “Ah, the subjunctive” like she remembered that I was practicing it, which is why I said that. I realized what I’d done, so after my shower I apologized profusely (using subjunctive) saying that I was doing it to practice, but I realized that “it’s necessary to ask to take a shower (among other things like that) instead of demanding” which is what the subjunctive kind of does in context. I asked if that was bad manners, and Madame said it kind of was, but she understood why I did it, and forgave me. I said I wouldn’t do it again, and she laughed.
I set up my French phone a bit more, added what numbers I had, and the important ones from home, and oh my goodness, I hate this phone! The keyboard is tiny, it doesn’t respond well to my touch, and the keyboard doesn’t get bigger when you rotate the phone like my US phone does. Worse, the Twitter app doesn’t work! It quits whenever I want to write a tweet! There’s no short code to tweet to in France either (you send a tweet to 40404 in the US). At this point, what’s the point of having a smartphone? Let me rephrase that, what’s the point of having a phone whose parents pay for someone to do its college application when it doesn’t have the brain to get a good college on its own? That’s seriously what this phone is. I had a little “brick” phone with a full QWERTY keyboard that was a GO phone that I bought after one of my phones broke about six months before the contract was up. I’d rather have that than this thing… I’m about ready to send for it, but I don’t think it’s unlocked! It’d be nice if someone could send me a cheap unlocked phone (or one for use in France) that has a full keyboard, but I think that’s a pipe dream (and it still won’t fix the tweeting problem). Needless to say, my boyfriend got a few really good belly laughs out of the fact that the dumb phone doesn’t have auto correct…
I have to admit, with how difficult Fabian’s class is at the moment, and that issue with the waiter at the restaurant today, I’m feeling so discouraged… When I make a mistake, no matter how minute, I have this little complex that makes me think that mistake is all people see when they see me, like it’s written across my forehead. I did karate when I was younger, and there was a Dojo Kun that was recited between classes (the end of one, the start of another), and the highest ranking/oldest member of that ceremony would lead the recitation of the Dojo Kun. The leader would say a line of the Dojo Kun, then everyone else would say it after them until it had all been said. It was placed in full view, but the ceremony was done with your eyes shut. I’d been the leader a few times before, but I’d been out of class recently (at the time of this incident) because I’d broken my hand. When I lead it one day right after my hand healed, I got mixed up. I said the third thing on the list second. From that day on, I never wanted to go back. My mom would make me go to karate, and I hated it from that point forward because I thought that everyone remembered that one little mistake I’d made. With that example out of the way, I digress (yes, Rouge, I realize I say that a lot)… I’ve been making so many mistakes in class, I’m getting out and out depressed as more time passes. With the restaurant thing, I’m not happy anymore. I’m just… here, in France, Making mistake, after mistake, after mistake. I feel like I can’t do anything right. Usually, I’m an optimist, and that’s when I’d say I’m at rock bottom, so that means I can only go up from here. At the moment, I don’t feel like there’s an up for me to go to. It’s obvious I’m not at the ceiling, but I feel like I’m stuck in a cave… ça marche? First it was still somehow messing up the subjunctive (even though it was the expressions and not the actual subjunctive), then it was the “don’t tell me about your health problems, you gross American” thing at lunch, then it was me being unintentionally rude to Madame’s neighbor, then it was demanding that I take a shower instead of asking to take one…
At dinner, Madame was able to make me feel a bit better. The thing that was definitely getting me down the most was the waiter issue, since if that’s how ALL of the waiters are going to act, why should I stay here? She said that’s definitely not a normal reaction for a waiter. I was in the right for saying hey, I’ve got this problem, just making sure I’m not ordering anything that’s going to make me sick. It’s not like I was giving him a laundry list of everything that I’ve got wrong with me, which is definitely TMI no matter where you go. Madame said it’d probably be a good idea for me to not go to crêperies anymore, unless I specifically see one advertise that they have gluten-free crepes (like the French restaurant near my college at home), which is sadly unlikely to happen. Having a salad at the restaurant was a good choice, and it was kind of me to say “don’t give me bread” since that would be a waste if he did (to waste = gaspiller, and Madame was surprised I knew that one). I didn’t have to say WHY I didn’t want the bread, so I won’t in the future unless asked. She mentioned that the dietary store she went to the other day to get more rice cakes only had rice cakes, and didn’t have other gluten-free goodies like the one I visited by l’Institut. The whole gluten-free thing hasn’t caught on as much as it has in America just yet. It’s probably going to be safer for me to order things at restaurants that I’m sure will be gluten-free, like that salad, or fries (though I’ll still ask). I’m also going to have to print out those cards… Madame doesn’t think they’ll be much of a help, but after I said I could start to try to describe what I can and can’t eat to a waiter, and if they say that they’re not sure what I can eat, I can hand them that card, and they can show it to a chef, Madame said that might be useful. Dinner involved another cucumber salad (a little different than the one I had earlier in my stay) for entrée, a pork chop (I told Madame about my family recipe for pork chops with dill pickle gravy) and rice for plat principal, the same cheese as last night, and another nectarine for dessert.
I’m absolutely beat, so I’m going to go to bed nice and early tonight! Tomorrow, I have a cooking class, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to eat what I make! No big deal, I’ve said the technique is the important part, and my friends can eat what I make for me!
Il faut être matelot avant d’être capitaine.