Another early morning… I was a little rushed today. I tried doing my sock bun a little differently, and it worked, but it took me a while. Sheila and I still left on time. The metro wasn’t too packed, but I didn’t get to sit down on either one of the trains we took to Sweet Briar. The elevator still isn’t fixed, so we had to go up the eight flights of stairs after we bought our vending machine apples for snacks. I’m embarrassed that I’m winded every time I do that for a good three or four minutes… Our theatre class would have been better had more of us actually read Dom Juan. I looked up a summary this morning after I realized we’d be talking about it in class today. A lot happens in the play compared to L’École des femmes. We’ll get to see it Tuesday after next. Mme. Hersant let us go about 15 minutes early, so I used that time to talk to her about my final project in the class. All we have to do is create a dossier, and the theme of it is pretty open. She’d said previously to the class that we were allowed to select a different work from one of the authors we’re already studying, so I knew that meant that I’d be in the clear for the idea I was plotting out in my head already…
I want to produce Molière Le Malade imaginaire (The Imaginary Invalid) for my senior project when I go back to my home college. I’ll be able to “kill two birds with one stone” with it since it’s a French play, and I’ll be pumping as much French influence as possible into it, but the play itself will be performed in English, and I’ll serve as the metteur en scène (director). I explained this to Mme. Hersant, and mentioned that I’d run the idea by my advisor back home a few times before, and he said I’d have to shorten the play and cut some scenes out, so that might be something I could do for the dossier. She said that’s an idea, so we talked for a bit. I also mentioned that I could potentially make one or two photocopies of the dossier and take them home with me so I can translate them and use them to apply for various fellowships to earn more money to use to actually produce the show (like a Keck Fellowship, for example). Madame loved the idea, and said she wanted me to turn in a photocopy and keep the original for myself, since those fellowships will actually want my original dossier. What I’m ultimately doing for the dossier is a pretty decent number of things… She wants me to do a drawing of a basic stage plot for my show (in perspective if I can manage it), add a lighting plot if I want to (I said I’d done one before, that wasn’t a lie), make a collage for some costume ideas (she said I could go fabric shopping and put in pieces of fabric if I wanted to, which is what real costume boards look like, but I don’t really have the money for that), and write up a note d’intention which is a directorial proposal of how I’m going to “run” my show, what direction I’m taking with my actors, what era I’m setting my piece in and why (if I’m changing the era, which I probably will be), and I can add what scenes I’m cutting and why in that proposal. Assuming I have time, I may actually hand translate (or do the margin notes of the drawings in French and English en même temps) everything for the dossier right away so my project is ready to start submitting to whatever fellowships it might qualify for as early as possible. Because of All Saints Day next week, we don’t have class, and Madame hinted that we should use the time to work on our dossiers, which is why I wanted to talk to her. Looks like it’s time for me to get to work on this project… and start talking to my advisor back home since my gears are turning. If my project turns out to be for naught, I’d like to know NOW so I can find a different one. If nothing else, this dossier will be great practice for later projects I’m sure to encounter in life.
When I went into the salle de lecture where our mailboxes our, I wasn’t too pleased to find that my box was empty. I’ve been waiting for my absentee ballot for over a week, and I was starting to get really nervous. I started writing up the stack of postcards I’d brought with me after I ate my apple. I got picked on a bit in Atelier d’Écriture, but we’ll get to that in a minute. Today’s lesson was on how to say “maybe” in a sentence, as in “Maybe she’s American.” There are three ways you can do this with the direct translation of “maybe” which is peut-être. The most common one that English speakers use is Peut-être elle est américaine. This is a fourth manner of making a sentence with peut-être, and it doesn’t exist. The quickest fix for that sentence is to shove a que right after the peut-être (thus the sentence becomes Peut-être qu‘elle est américaine), but this is ONLY good for SPEAKING French. You never want to write that in a paper. So… what do you do when you’re writing a paper, and you already wrote “Peut-être” to start your sentence? Use inversion! Switch the placement of the verb and the noun after your peut-être, and you’re good! Only use this in your writing, it’s very snobby to say this one. Our example sentence becomes Peut-être est-elle américaine. There’s one more structure… this one’s great since you can use it in both written and spoken French. You put your peut-être directly after the conjugated verb, whatever it is, even if it’s your auxiliary verb in passé composé. So our sentence in this format becomes Elle est peut-être américaine. Practice this one a lot, it’s really tricky. How do you negate that structure and put it in the past tense? Try figuring out “Maybe they didn’t tell the truth.” The correct translation is “Ils n’ont peut-être pas dit la verité.” Really odd, right? Your peut-être goes IN your ne pas clause, AND it goes right after the auxiliary verb (like I mentioned earlier), NOT right after the verb that it refers to. This is where I got picked on. Mme. Mellado asked me to translate “Maybe he forgot you.” At first, I said “Il oublie peut-être…” and she stopped me. “He forgot, he’s not forgetting.” “Ah. Il a oublie…” “No. Where’s the ‘maybe?'” “Il… a peut-être oublié…” “He forgot YOU.” “Toi?” Fatal error. “Oh really good, Claire. ‘You French. Me American.’ Couldn’t make it any more obvious.” The entire class (myself included) cracked up. “Il t’a peut-être oublié!” “OUI. Ça va?” “Oui. Ça va.” We worked on superlative adjectives after that. The usual phrase for saying that something is “the most _________ whatever” is le/la/les plus + adjectif + de (de la/du/des). Don’t forget to make that adjective agree with whatever your noun is, since your articles will. This phrase will almost always follow the noun since it’s pretty much one giant adjective. “We slept in the most expensive hotel in the city” becomes Nous avons dormi dans l’hôtel le plus chèr de la ville. Of course, if you use an adjectif antéposé (or a BAGS adjective as we call them), the entire “le plus _____ de” phrase becomes an adjectif antéposé and it goes in front of the noun. “We slept in the biggest hotel in the city” becomes Nous avons dormi dans le plus grand hôtel de la ville. One last lesson for today, when you want to say “That’s the reason why…” you have two options. If you want to use raison (reason), then you have to say c’est la raison pour laquelle… (just for your writing) but if you aren’t using raison, you can say c’est pourquoi (writing or speaking). You can NEVER use raison and c’est pourquoi at the same time. If you’re just speaking (never writing), you could say c’est pour ça que.
As I was heading out the door, Mme. Parnet stopped me and said I got some type of letter in an expedited package, and it looked important. I said I was glad it came, it was probably my ballot! She said that was odd since everyone else’s absentee ballots came a couple weeks ago. I explained that my Mom and I had done it an odd way: I registered as a normal absentee voter, and as far as my county was concerned, I had never left the country. The ballot was sent to my mom, and she sent it to me. Note to anyone studying abroad during an election year, DO NOT HANDLE YOUR ABSENTEE BALLOT THE WAY I DID. It’s a huge hassle. I’m sure my mom paid an arm and a leg to send me my ballot (judging by the Russian nesting doll style envelopes it were in, and all of the “urgent” stamps all over the outer envelope), and I got it a little too close to the date of the election for comfort. Needless to say, I sat down right away and voted. I wasn’t too sure about all of the propositions, so I pulled up Ballotpedia to help decode some of them before I bubbled in what I wanted. I jotted down notes in my small notepad so I could remember what I voted for or against when my mom and I get a chance to talk this weekend, and if I ended up voting with or against my party (Ballotpedia notes whether or not the state’s Republican/Democratic parties were for or against whatever proposition you happen to be looking at). Judging by that tally, I guess I’m a bit more moderate than I thought I was. I’m just glad that both sides agree that human trafficking is bad.
At least we agree on something… I went straight to the post office to send the ballot back home after that. Since it only takes a week, I didn’t need to send it home in an expedited manner or anything, and the envelope only cost me two euro, postage included. I was stopped on the road by a somewhat pushy young woman while I was texting my mom specific instructions to not accidentally open my ballot when she opens the envelope that my ballot is in since the postal worker that helped me found an envelope that was the perfect size. Since I had my headphones in, I couldn’t quite understand her at first, but by the time I got my first earbud out, I thought I heard her say “vous pouvez m’aider?” (can you help me?) So I said “Oui.” thinking she needed directions to the metro station or something. In a nutshell, she was working for a program that sponsored children from les banlieues (suburbs, but in more of a “ghetto” context than our notion of it) and sent them to art programs if you gave them money, specifically 15 euro for a month (I think), and 60 euro for a whole year. I told her I’d love to help, but I didn’t have enough with me. She said she could tell I wasn’t from Paris, and asked where I was from. I told her I was an American. “It’s because you smile. Parisians don’t smile. Are you studying here?” I told her where I studied, then she asked why I was in the area, so I told her I’d just sent my ballot back home. She asked who I voted for, then she shook my hand, and we talked about the elections, even the French ones that happened recently. She complimented my French, and I gave her the only thing I had in my wallet: a 10 euro bill. I justified in my head by thinking that if I’d given every single beggar I’ve encountered in the metro so far something… it’d amount to at least 10 euros, if not more.
Sheila was napping when I got home, so I changed into my exercise gear, and attempted to load up some Zumba videos, which was a chore since the WiFi was being really temperamental. After doing about seven or eight partial videos for about an hour, I eventually gave up trying. At least I got something done… I was still a little sore from yesterday, but I’m happy that I’m keeping up some semblance of a work out routine while I’m here. All of the walking I’ve been doing is always a good thing, but I know I won’t be doing nearly as much when I go back home. I wish I had one of my little pedometers from when my school would have walking competitions (I won the last one) to see exactly how much I walk in a day for a comparison… Madame made us dinner a little earlier than usual since her daughter (I think it was her eldest) was here, and they were going out to dinner. We had steak hache, a salad, and sweet potato purée by ourselves. I found something quite nice in my email today… a reply from Mme. Remion! Bribing her with pictures I’ve taken so far worked! She told me she loved looking at all of the pictures on my Flickr account, she even mentioned that her mother had been baptized at L’Église Madeleine, and she was married at L’Hôtel des Invalides, which I’ve taken pictures of, but I didn’t know what it was initially. She can have me stay with her from November 9-11! Looks like I’m going back to Tours before I go back to America! I check some train prices, and a round trip from Paris to Tours will only cost me about 40 euro, so that’s really great. I’ll shoot her an email tomorrow to ask if I should come Thursday or Friday night. I’d like to spend as much time with her as possible, but I’ve signed up to do a tour of the Parisian Catacombs with Sweet Briar, and that’s on the Friday afternoon of that weekend, and I’d like to try to avoid missing it… plus, I’d be able to show her pictures from it!
We’re headed to Versailles tomorrow afternoon. I need to go charge my camera…
À force d’être juste on est souvent coupable. Corneille: La Mort de Pompée