This isn’t virtual reality, it’s reality, right?

Getting up early today was definitely NOT something I wanted to do, but I’m definitely thankful I’m a morning person. Even Madame said I was up early when she caught me in the kitchen at 7:45 (I was already dressed and fit to leave the house) putting together leftovers to take for lunch today… I mixed up some leftover gluten-free pasta, last night’s ratatouille, and some chicken from a couple nights ago. Madame said I have an “interesting” sense of taste. Sheila and Joan showed up in the kitchen in varying degrees of “ready” around 7:55. We all had our breakfast together, and headed out the door and off to Sweet Briar at 8:30.

I had my first Mise en Scene class with Mme. Hersant at 9:30, and I have it with Sheila. Madame is really sweet! Today was spent going over what plays we’re going to see (and study for class), and then some basic theatre background. I did pretty well at recalling all of the background information from my World Theatre classes back home, so that was a plus. We’ll be studying Molière’s L’École des femmes and Dom Juan, Cocteau’s Les Enfants terribles, and Labiche’s Un chapeau de paille d’Italie. I’m definitely excited! We have to create a dossier for our semester project, and it should be based around one of the authors or thematic ideas that we study in class, but this is up for debate with Madame. We have to critique whatever it is we choose to study, and put up a good argument for whatever we opinion we choose to display. Of course, we have to have a bibliography with all of this. I’m thinking I should do some work on Le Malade imaginaire and use that as a springboard for my senior project when I get back to my “usual” university…
I ate my lunch sitting outside on Sweet Briar’s balcony, and this is what I got to look at…

I think it finally hit me… I’m in Paris. I LIVE in PARIS. People flock here for inspiration, for love, for… whatever, and I’m here, almost taking it for granted. I sat in my sun-faded red plastic chair, stuffed my face with my leftovers, and silently thought about how my food tasted better because of where I was, what I was looking at… and probably because the ingredients used to make what I was eating weren’t all genetically modified and ….messed up like the food in America is. Being the “go-getter” and “mover and shaker” that I am, I’ve never been able to see the point in going outside to sit down and rest, to be pensive, to watch the world go by… to look for inspiration in the things around yourself. Now I get it, and I have a newfound appreciation for it. Thank goodness I have this blog (and a halfway-decent memory), because I don’t currently have the time to sit down and do some serious writing the way a sketch artist can sketch a park scene… but I’m pretty sure I’m “living my best work.” Everything I’m experiencing right now, everything I’m seeing, smelling, tasting, actively watching… I have to store this somewhere so that I can bring it out later, put my pen to my paper (or my fingers to my keyboard, since we live in a technological age), and craft something that only I can craft… something to touch millions of hearts worldwide, and if I’m lucky, something that I can humbly collect accolades for later on… not that the accolades are what I really want. Writing for reward is writing for all the wrong reasons.
Belly and mind thoroughly stuffed, and somewhat drunk with new ideas, I rested back in the library before my grammar class. We went over a couple new idiomatic expressions. If you EVER use n’importe anything (quoi, où, qui), remember that it ALWAYS goes after a verb. It doesn’t mean “no matter.” It means something more along the lines of “unreasonable.” So if you’re going to be romantic, and tell your significant other “No matter what you do, I will always love you” in French, you need to say Quoi que tu fasses, je t’aimerai toujours. The quoi que (or où que, qui que) phrase is ALWAYS followed by the subjunctive tense, and to say “always love you” it’s better to use the real future tense instead of future simple. The context of future simple (je vais t’aimer toujours) says something more along the lines of… I’ll love you for a few more months. If you’re going to follow something/nothing/someone/no one (quelque chose/rien/quelqu’un/personne) with an adjective, it’s got to be followed by de, and that adjective is ALWAYS masculine. “I would like to be something beautiful for her” becomes Je voudrais trouver quelque chose de beau pour elle. To measure “how much” or “how” in French (in the context of something that is actually immeasurable), you use combien or à quelle point (to be more romantic). “You don’t know how much I love him” becomes Tu ne sait pas à quelle point je l’aime
After all this, I found Joan in the library. She said she’d be there for a while, so I headed over to Fnac to buy the books I needed for the Mise en Scene class, some sheets of binder paper, a binder for my dossier, and a better folder to put handouts in. I ended up leaving Fnac with… 10 plays… This is what happens when you allow a theatre kid to go buy plays unsupervised… Here’s what I bought:
Beckett: Fin de Partie (Endgame)
Corneille: Le Cid
Marivaux: Le jeu de l’amour et du hasard (The Game of Love and Chance)
Molière: L’École des Femmes [avec Critique] (School for Wives), Dom Juan (Don Juan), Le Malade imaginaire (The Imaginary Invalid), L’Avare (The Miser), Le Tartuffe
Racine: Phèdre (Phaedra)
Shakespeare: Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth (all in one book)
With the exception of Dom Juan, I’ve read ALL of these plays. Have I read all of them in French? No… I was actually supposed to already own a handful of these (in French, believe it or not) because I read them for a class I took back at my usual university, but I found them online. I loved them so much, I wanted actual copies, and for two euro a piece, I couldn’t say no… Endgame is one of my favorite plays, and I know the history behind it pretty well. Beckett wrote Fin de Partie first, and then he wrote Endgame, but saying he just hand translated Fin de Partie isn’t exactly accurate… so that’s cool. We already know how important Le Malade imaginaire is for me, so that was a given… and then I just kept snapping up books… I think getting the Shakespeare was the most out there play (or set of plays, in the case) I bought, but it’s Shakespeare… in French. What’s not to love? Again, I only needed Dom Juan and L’École des Femmes [avec Critique] for class…
Theatre Nerd… and PROUD OF IT.
I headed back to Sweet Briar and found that everyone had left, so I headed home. The metro was really… interesting. Out of all of the cars on all of the trains I could have got on… I got on the ONE car that had a passed out drunk (or perhaps a very soundly sleeping) hobo on it. He was sleeping on the floor, half underneath the two folding wall-seats against the opposite side of the car (the other doors), so no one could use them. I used the folding wall seat on the other side from him, and pressed myself up against the other wall as closely as I could. Three stops later, a shoeless beggar woman (she was definitely dressed for the part) and her dog got on the car, did her monologue, then spotted the passed out hobo. Apparently, there’s a solidarity between homeless people here. The woman went over to him, and started shaking him to try to wake him up. Her dog got up and followed her, and it took both of them a good 30 seconds to wake him. So I’m in the corner, trying to disappear, thinking “don’t wake the sleeping giant, let sleeping hobos lie, crazy lady” and finally the hobo stirs, and tells her (in French) “I was in the middle of a dream, why did you have to bother me?” I had to stay on the train for three more stops… The lady got off at the next one, but not after attempting to beg for more change… and the resurrected hobo was sitting up, staring off into space at the rest of us. I don’t think I’ve ever exited a train that fast before (neglecting falling off of one last week)… 
Once I finally got home, I had the gluten-free cream puff from Helmut Newcake, which was pretty good, but I prefer things with a bit more flavor. It was a nice snack, though. I got a chance to Skype my big sister, my boyfriend, and my best friend from back home, so that was a big deal for me! Dinner was good tonight. I got a chance to eat some red meat, which helps my “mission” to gain a little weight back. We had steak haché (think inch-thick hamburger patty), mashed potatoes (I’m pretty sure there was added nutmeg for a little something extra, very delicious), salad, cheese, and applesauce for dessert. Sheila and I met up with Kyle and headed up to Sacre Coeur for a “relaxing” night out. We passed by Carrefour and meant to buy a bottle of wine to split, but they decided to close ten minutes before their posted hours, so that was a bit of a bummer, but we weren’t going to let that stop us. We saw the Eiffel Tower again, then sat on the steps of the church. After a little while, Rouge called me on Nicolas’ phone (he’s in town visiting her for the weekend), and they hung out with us for a while. Once it was 11, I made a note of it, and reminded everyone that the metro closed at midnight. “Claire, the metro stops running at one on weekdays.” I could have sworn that was on weekends. “It’s Thursday.” “The metro stops running at two on weekends.” “It’s Thursday!” “We know!” “But the metro closes early today!” “We know!” It took me a minute or two to realize that they were trying to tell me that the metro stops running at one most nights… duh… this was how Nicolas learned about the idea of a “brain fart” and how this one smelled so bad, people in Toulouse could smell it. Regardless of when I thought the metro was closing, we all headed home around 11:15, and Sheila and I got home at about midnight. On the walk home, we talked about something called “phase two” and how everyone but me seemed to be in it… It’s apparently phase two of culture shock. Phase one is when you’re like, alright, I’m in a new country, and it’s so much better than America! Phase two is when you think your new country sucks, and you want to go home. Phase three is when you’re okay with the new country, and with where you are, you don’t really care one way or the other. Phase four is reverse culture shock when you go back to your home country. I haven’t felt homesick at all yet (though I’ve been kind of waiting for that shoe to drop since I’ve seen it “dropping” with all of the people around me), in fact, I feel like I’ve only just hit phase one. My friends think I’ll hit phase two once my classes at Paris III start since that seemed to be the trigger for them (the difficulty of the classes, that is). We’ll have to see. I’ve never really experienced traditional culture shock before, though I’ve definitely experienced it in reverse, or what would be phase four in this sense…
We have a tour of Canal St. Martin tomorrow, but other than that, we don’t have anything special planned out… we’ll just have to play it by ear. Maybe I’ll read some of my new plays!
Tu pues déjà. Toute la maison pue le cadavre. –Beckett: Fin de partie

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