I really hate Wednesdays. Allow me to explain how awful they are… our host mother was not up as early as we were. Sheila and I were fully dressed (though I had not put on my makeup yet) when we went out to the kitchen to have breakfast at seven AM sharp. I set the table for the most part, and we were about halfway through “getting ready” to eat (toasting bread, prepping cereal, etcetera)… when Madame came into the kitchen in her robe, said “Bonjour les filles” (Good morning, girls), made herself some toast and about half a “pot’s worth” of French press (oh so appropriate), and actually ate breakfast with us. It was a little awkward, but only because all three of us were still a little tired and disoriented since it was still dark outside. Hardly a word was said at the table, but we’d chuckle every time someone moved and bumped something on the table, or accidentally kicked someone underneath it. She headed out of the kitchen when we were almost done with breakfast, so we did our dishes, and attempted to leave the kitchen. That wasn’t a typo. I meant “attempted.” It was so dark in the hallway… Sheila had shut off the kitchen light when I was halfway down the hallway, and I had to attempt to find the light switch on the wall, so she went back into the kitchen to turn on the light so I could see the switch. Sheila was quite amused when she was able to see the manner in which I was groping the wall… I thought I was being efficient, but she must have thought I looked more like a blind man trying to get lucky because she kept chuckling all through brushing her teeth right before she left to go to her 8:30 AM class… I left about 15 minutes after she did after I’d put on my makeup. It was only supposed to drizzle (as opposed to seriously rain) today, so I wanted to wear my leather boots, but I remembered that one of my feet felt a little wet the last time I wore them, which meant there must have been a little hole where the sole met the toe of the shoe, so I wanted to try to patch it up before I put them on. There was indeed a hole, but it wasn’t where I thought it was… nor was it as minuscule as I thought it was…

As French cobblers would say… “That shoe is dead.”

Because the hole goes all the way down to the soft part of the sole/the part of the shoe that touches my feet, there’s nothing that can be done. I bought these stupid boots the day before I left for France!  Looks like I’ve got to find a new pair… This is the second pair of shoes that France has “killed.” American shoes are not made for all of the walking that Europeans do. I’ve made the executive decision to start importing all of my shoes once I go back to America. As fond as I am of the “Made in America” movement, until someone makes a good pair of American shoes that can handle France, I’m not buying them. I ended up wearing my black ankle boots that look like I’m ready for a snow day instead. At least they weren’t the rain boots…

Professor Clavier had emailed us about seven pieces of text over the weekend. I haven’t printed any of them out, much less brought any of them to class since he hasn’t explicitly said we needed to. All of the theatre lights in the classroom were working on Monday when I had my other class, but Professor Clavier couldn’t get them to work today, which really irked him since he had the same problem last week, and he’d asked someone to go in the room and fix everything. I told him that they were working on Monday, and we got one of the eight lamps in the room to light up. He had the whole class form a round in the area of the room that had some light, and we read some pieces. I’m a little confused with how this class is working, but I suppose I’ll live… We read Talents et Admirateurs by Ostrovsky (the English translation of that is literally “Talents and Admirers” but I think the play is actually called The Last Victim in English), but we read the second act of it… and Professor Clavier gave us a synopsis of the first act… Then we read the French version of Uncle Vanya (Chekhov) but it was only the third act, again with a synopsis of what had happened beforehand… We took a pause, and Professor Clavier called someone in to fix the lights. The girl next to me was the Romanian student, and I told her about how the lights were working on Monday, so she asked me about the class that I was taking that also happened to be in that room, and I told her about my monologue, mainly about the fact that everyone in the class picked dramatic ones and I have a comedic one. She told me that basically the whole world feels that dramatic pieces are easier and she’s surprised I felt like comedic monologues are easier. I said they were easier for me just because I think I’m a funny person and that I’m much happier making people laugh. She said it could work either way. She then said something else that went in one ear and out the other… which I find happening more often than it should be… sometimes it’ll be in class, sometimes it’ll be in little conversations like these, but I’ve started to just… zone out for a few minutes and my brain stops comprehending what I’m hearing. I’m also too proud to ask that person to repeat what they just said… so I made something up which seemed to work… After the break was over, I finally managed to figure out what exactly the class was about! Scènographie! This is basically an in-depth study of the theatre text to better understand how to direct it, how to properly act it, etcetera. The closest English equivalent I can come up with is dramaturgy. We took the Uncle Vanya piece and got it up on its feet, then Professor Clavier kept telling the actors to look deeper into the character to discover what Stanislavsky calls (in English) “the magic if” and to properly play the characters. This isn’t very well translated into French, so “the magic if” has become “la suprème tâche” which translates into “the supreme mission.” There was one girl in the class who spent the entire session sneezing and loudly blowing her nose, and you could tell just by looking at her that she had a cold, so I tried to avoid her at all costs, but I can kind of feel myself coming down with something as it is, so I think being exposed to Typhoid Mary just pushed it over the edge. So now my immune system is broken…

Joan and I had decided we’d meet up right after my class was over since she had class in the same building even though it got out an hour before mine, and we’d go to Helmut Newcake for lunch to get one of their plates. Sheila had texted me during the break to say that she wanted to hang out, so I told her to come back to creepy Paris III/VII and join us. When I was walking to the front of the building, another one of my straps on my bag broke! I jerry-rigged it as best as I could, and I had every intention to super-glue it back together when I got home, but I had to deal with it at least through lunch. The three of us headed over to Helmut Newcake, which was only two metro stops away from creepy Paris III/VII. Sadly, by the time we got there, the only thing left for the lunch offerings (which included something as sinfully delicious as an artichoke quiche) was a single helping of carrot soup with a slice of sesame-feta bread that was packaged to-go in a cup. I took that, along with one of the pistachio cakes topped with what looked like lingonberries, Sheila had a berry tart, and Joan had a lemon merengue tart. I picked up a packet of cookies, and swiped my card to pay since that would be easier. We walked back to the MacDo in the area so Joan could get some actual lunch (Sheila had already eaten, but she got some coffee and a macaron from the McCafé), and we could sit down and eat. The soup was still a little cold when I had it, but it was still delicious (which is saying something since I hate carrots), and the bread was great! That pastry wasn’t my favorite. It wasn’t because it was gluten-free, it just wasn’t exactly something I like. I did want to try everything Helmut Newcake has to offer, so that’s off my list, and I probably won’t have it again.

Gluten-free bread and soup! …and MacDo frites

Pistachio pastry… good, but not to die for.

We’d passed some shops on the way to Helmut Newcake that I wanted to check out, namely a bag store, and a shoe store that had boots on sale for 10 euro. Sheila and Joan were worried about getting back to Sweet Briar in, oh… an hour. 15 minutes later, I had a new pair of black false leather boots (they didn’t have brown, I didn’t really care), and a new black false leather bag to replace what all had broken today. We went back to Sweet Briar, after my bag had broken beyond repair (I was carrying it like a stack of books), and I moved everything from the old bag into the new one. I don’t like the new one any more/less than the old one. It’s just different. It’s about the same size. It doesn’t have the large pocket down the middle that the old one had that I put all of my school books in, and the pocket on the outside of it doesn’t open (I guess that’s good for faking out would-be pick-pockets) but I can zip it closed, and it has a hidden pocket on the top of the bag that I’ve put all of my maps in, and I can stash my Navigo pass in it as well. When Sheila and Joan left for their classes, I headed home, but I stopped by Carrefour on the way since I had some things I needed to pick up. I’d used the last slice of cheese for breakfast today, so I wanted to buy some more, then I got a jar of Nutella for the breakfast table, some honey lemon tea (thanks a lot allergies/Typhoid Mary), and two different kinds of cough drops (one Carrefour brand that was honey-mint, and one small cigarette-sized box of black currant Ricola) to calm my now sore throat.

I got home, unloaded all of my things, and put my old boots and purse off to the side of the room so I could take them down to the garbage at some point. I made myself a cup of honey lemon tea while I got myself ready for a shower… and I made a rather horrifying discovery. The entire world is broken. Why? Somehow, glucose syrup derived from wheat has made its way into cheap cough drops. Someone PLEASE enlighten me on how COUGH DROPS cannot be kept sacred and gluten-free anymore?! I hadn’t opened the bag yet (much less ingested any of the sneaky bastards), but I was reading the ingredients to see if the bag of Carrefour brand cough drops were indeed cough drops since they were labeled bonbons which translates to “candy” and I did have to go to the candy aisle to find them. That evil ingredient was second, second only to sugar, of course. Sheila got a present when she came home… Gluten-full cough drops… The world is not a place I want to live in anymore… Thankfully the Ricola ones are gluten-free… We had the galettes du sarrasin with ham, eggs and cheese for dinner (along with a salad). Madame mentioned that she’d be gone next weekend from Thursday to Sunday night to go scope out wedding locations with her middle daughter, and that she’d give us a whole bunch of stuff to make dinner. She smiled and said that she didn’t want us to have people over and she laughed. We laughed back and said we’d learned our lesson. She followed that up by saying “I trust you two, but I had that one bad experience with another student a few years ago, so that’s why I say it.” She later said she was okay with us having one of our friends over (so long as it was one she’d met) over for dinner while she was gone, which is an incredible improvement on not having any friends over at all (she said that after the curtain rod thing last Monday). Madame’s become so chill and fun to be around, Sheila and I are so happy! She even complimented Sheila’s lovely natural dark black hair… and then my brain broke (sensing a theme yet?) and I made a wonderful French flub. I wanted to say “I envy you” to Sheila. That’s “je t’envie.” What I said was “j’envie de toi.” I knew I said it wrong as soon as I’d said it. Thankfully, Madame just smiled, chuckled, corrected me, and confirmed the fact that I’d just told Sheila “I WANT YOU.” Vie de merde

I’m going to go to bed with my off-brand American Nyquil before anything else breaks. Let’s just hope this works…

La grammaire qui sait régenter jusqu’aux rois. -Molière: Les Femmes Savantes

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