The Waistband Transmogrification

I didn’t want to wake up today either. I wasn’t trying to get up early to do any yoga or anything, I just really didn’t want to get up when my alarm went off at 10:30. Sheila and I had our usual breakfast, and then on a whim, we stepped on the scale. I wasn’t pleased with the number that popped up. After running the conversion, I found that I’ve dropped to about 114 pounds. My minimum limit (that I’m usually happy with) is 115. Before anyone (else) freaks out, I do usually weigh myself in the morning, when I ever do it. Regardless, I need to gain a little weight. I feel like I’m too skinny when I drop under 115. I also realize that most of my gender is probably going to want to kill me for saying that, but I don’t care. To each their own, and for right now, I don’t weigh enough. Part of me wants to work out a bit more to gain muscle (since muscle weighs more than fat), but I’m scared that’ll backfire on me and I’ll lose more fat-weight before I gain more muscle-weight. Off to Sweet Briar we went, Sheila went to class, I ate a bag of chips that I brought with me for lunch, and I goofed around until I had my Atelier d’Écriture class. I completely forgot to print out blank male and female body forms to trace and copy for my costume project, or to make copies of my basic scenic design plate so I could work on those… clearly my head was not in the right place this afternoon…

We had a couple “mini lessons” before jumping into one big one that’s continuing on Thursday. When you’re dealing with a mode of transport, you need to be careful what prepositions you use. When we were asked to translate the phrase I need to take a plane to Rome at 5 PM” most of us wrote down Je doit prendre un avion à Rome à 17h. This is wrong (but you knew that much already). Saying that will confuse a French person. Why? You’ve said something to the effect of “I need to take a plane in Rome at 5 PM. That’s why you say la vie est belle, j’ai 20 ans, et je suis à Paris… (life is beautiful, I’m 20, and I’m IN Paris…) The proper preposition to use here is pour. That sentence should be written Je doit prendre un avion pour Rome à 17h. To get around that, you can use the expression aller à + ville, but that’s “cheating…” Everyone pretty much knew how to translate the next sentence: We went to the beach. That’s nous sommes allés à la plage. Here’s where the hiccup happened: We walked to the beach. You can’t just say nous avons marché à la plage because that means “we walked on the beach.” The correct preposition to use instead of à in this case is jusqu’à. That sentence should be nous avons marché jusqu’à la plage. How do you know when you’re supposed to use jusqu’à and not à? Whenever you’ve got a verbe de déplacement that isn’t aller or arriver (because using the phrases aller à or arriver à work fine), you need to use jusqu’à. We ended up learning a new phrase as we practiced this one. Ever used de temps en temps to say “from time to time?” It works for a lot of other things. One of the phrases one of my classmates was asked to translate in class was “I jumped from rock to rock to the other riverbank.” That’s j’ai sauté de pierre en pierre jusqu’à l’autre rive. Whenever you need to say “from ______ to _______” the phrase you use is de _______ en _______. This is when our giant lesson that’ll continue on Thursday started, and it’s all about how to choose your auxiliary verb. We started with être. We got through two uses, the first was les verbes pronominaux. Notice how I didn’t say “Reflexive verbs.” Pronominal verbs aren’t JUST reflexive verbs. They also include reciprocal verbs. All pronominal verbs (anything with se in front of it in its infinitive form) will use être as an auxiliary verb. The second use was with all verbes de mouvement or as Mme. Mellado prefers to term it, verbes de déplacement since “verbs of movement” is a little vague. She’s right. You move when you write or when you eat, but we use avoir when we put those verbs in the past tense, that’s confusing. When you use “verbs of displacement” and you think about displacing your entire body, it gets a little less confusing… and yes, this is the Dr. Mrs. P. Vandertramp part of the conversation. But we’re grown ups now, and we don’t need that load of connerie. Worse, it doesn’t work. Mme. Mellado wrote 15 verbs up on the board. Note that with that stupid acrostic we use, there are 17 places, and some of them are redundant. I’ll explain why in a minute. Here are the verbs Mme. Mellado gave us:
Aller
Venir
Arriver
Partir
Sortir
Monter
Descendre
Naître
Mourir
(R)Entrer
Tomber
Rester
Passer
Retourner
Demeurer*
Before I make notes on why some of those verbs are underlined, in bold, or why one has an asterisk, here’s why Dr. Mrs. P. Vandertramp is useless: it makes you memorize verbs like revenir, parvenir, and devenir, and you shouldn’t have to because they all have venir in them, and you should know automatically that any derivative of venir will need être as an auxiliary verb (except for prevenir which means “to warn someone” and is always followed by quelqu’un, that will always use avoir). That’s why venir is in bold. Demeurer has an asterisk by it because Mme. Mellado gave it to us as a bonus word. That one’s never going to come up on anyone’s Dr. Mrs. P. Whatever. It has the same basic meaning as rester, though it has a fancier meaning. In English, the equivalent is “remain.” An older, more classic meaning (that you’ll never hear in Paris unless you hear it out of a very old person’s mouth, or from someone that’s clearly not from Paris) is close to habiter. If you’re being a bit of a Victor Hugo (by that I mean poetic), and you use demeurer in the past tense with the meaning that’s closer to habiter, you need to use avoir as the auxiliary verb. As for the six verbs that were underlined in that list (sortir, monter, descendre, (r)enter, passer, retourner), be aware that they can use both avoir and être as auxiliary verbs. They’ll require être most of the time, but you’ll use avoir with them only when you’re dealing with a direct object, which we talked about last week.

I headed back home after class before it got too cold. Sheila was still in class, so I had the house to myself for a while. Madame was going to be out late for something for her job, so she had made dinner ahead of time for us. After Sheila got home and called her mom, we had our meal: smoked salmon, potatoes, and a salad that we made the vinaigrette for. I think I went a little overboard when I did it, the lettuce was absolutely saturated and there was dressing left on the bottom of the bowl when we had finished the salad! We spent most of the meal laughing since we spoke mainly in one liners in the style of Supa Hot Fire. Our favorites were “Madame’s yogurt… I EAT THAT” and “All the water… I DRINK THAT.” We’re clearly easily amused very creative.

Up early for another theatre class tomorrow. We’re supposed to get into groups for our scenes tomorrow, so this should be interesting… I hope that I actually get a group. Let’s just start there… after the work I did last week, I think the few people that were in the class know that I’m at least competent and I can act a little (much less actually speak French), so maybe someone will take me in like a little Orphan Annie…

Il faut bonne mémoire après qu’on a menti. Corneille: Le Menteur

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