Christmastime in Levallois

Sheila and I got up at ten so we could have breakfast and get ready to go to Sweet Briar to meet up with the gang for lunch. The elevator has finally been fixed, and Sweet Briar is officially back to being handicap-friendly. Sheila and I found Rouge, Joan, and Kyle in the library, and Rouge tossed a small box of Italian biscuits that were gluten-free that she’s been meaning to give me in my direction. I’m lucky I managed to catch them before they hit one of my classmates’ heads… We headed downstairs and went to the nearby kebab place for lunch. I had another eight euro plate of food (à emporter this time) while the rest of my friends got sandwiches for six… injustice, I tell you… After that, Rouge, Sheila and Joan all went into the same session of Atelier, so Kyle and I hung out in the library. We caught up on our trips (mine to Toulouse, his to Brussels and Nice), and I schooled Kyle on how to properly write a postcard. I hadn’t seen Kyle in about two weeks, so it was nice to catch up. I didn’t realize how much I missed him. That was a rather cruel reminder of how quickly the semester was coming to a close, and that I couldn’t be sure when I’d see Kyle next once we all disembarked from our group flight back to Washington Dulles. Shoot, if two weeks was bothersome (though we had chatted on Facebook a couple of times), months on end is going to be painful. Dom Mazzetti may say “he’s not my real friend, he’s my study abroad friend” but this couldn’t be any more wrong in my case…

We had four small lessons today in Atelier d’Écriture. The first was the translation of “I’m American,” she added. In English, you can write that the way I just did, or She added, “I’m American.” It doesn’t matter where you put “she added,” you just stick it wherever you want it that’s what she said. It’s not quite like that in French. If you’re going to directly translate “she added” as elle a ajouté, you need to put that in front, and write your sentence as Elle a ajouté, “Je suis américaine.” If you want “she added” at the end of your sentence, you need to do some fancy inversion du sujet Your sentence will read Je suis américaine,” a-t-elle ajouté. What about “I’m American,” my sister added? We already know what happens when you put “my sister added” in front of the quote, how would you put it at the end? It’d be a ajouté ma soeur. When you’re dealing with a pronoun (like elle, or je), they go in front of the past participle of your verb, but when you have a proper noun (like ma soeur in this case), it goes after your past participle. Moving on to our next lesson, we learned how to deal with the idiomatic expression for “to survive something/someone.” How would you translate “They survived the hurricane?” Most of us thought it was Ils ont surveçu l’ouragan. Not quite. If you were simply saying “they survived” ils ont surveçu would work. Because we have something after that phrase, we need something else… The idiomatic expression for to survive something (or someone) is survivre à quelque chose/quelqu’un. Our correct phrase here is Ils ont surveçu à l’ouragon. Next lesson… How do you say “I live 10 minutes from the beach?” Most of us wrote something to the effect of J’habite 10 minutes de la plage which is pretty close to correct, but not quite. The correct structure we need to use (regardless if the distance is a geographic one, or a time-based one) is à + distance + de + déstination So our phrase should be J’habite à 10 minutes de la plage. Next thing was a vocab term. You know how we have our idiomatic expression for “I was that close to killing him?” Whenever you were “that close” to doing anything, you’d say à ça de or you were à deux doigts de (two fingers from). That phrase is J’étais à ça/à deux doigts de le tuer! Last lesson. How do you say “This music reminds me of my country?” Cette musique me rappelle mon pays. That’s the correct phrase. The structure you want to use is rappeler quelque chose à quelqu’un. Notice how there’s no preposition in my phrase. That’s been taken care of with the me in my phrase. I’ll do a couple more here… I remind her of her sister. Je lui rappel sa soeur. These cookies remind me of my childhood. Ces cookies me rappelle mon enfance. See? The preposition (à) is taken care of by the “reflexive” pronouns. The phrase itself isn’t necessarily reflexive, but the preposition becomes redundant.

After class, I went to Sephora to do a little Christmas shopping. My boyfriend had asked for French cologne, so I picked one out for him. One of the workers pointed out that there was a coffret (gift set) in the fragrance I had selected. For the same price as the 100mL bottle, I could get the 100mL bottle, and a couple extra products in a fancy box, so I wasn’t about to argue. I picked up my bottle of Yves Saint Laurent’s Manifesto so I could cash in the coupon (it got me a mini version of the same perfume) as well. I headed home after that. I’d noticed that Levallois (the suburb of Paris I live on the outskirts of, I still technically live in the 17th arrondissement) had started to put Christmas decorations up recently, and all of them were lit up when I came out of the metro on my way home. I’m sure I had the stupidest grin on my face the entire way home as I walked down Rue Louise Michel. The street lamps had decorations on them, and the rond point (roundabout) that I come across had lights on its bushes… this, the Christmas presents I had in my hand, and the fact that my iPod was playing Norah Jones’ cover of “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” (last week’s Holiday Single of the Week” on iTunes) put me in quite the Christmas spirit. It lasted nearly all the way home… up until the LCL bank near Pancake Square at the end of the road when my iPod shuffled to Cali Swag District’s “Teach Me How to Dougie” and my Christmas cheer flew away quicker than Rudolph has to on Christmas Eve…

Madame made roasted chicken, potatoes, and a salad for dinner, but just for me and Sheila. She was going to have dinner with her daughter again. Her daughter’s mother-in-law was on her deathbed at 92, so her daughter needed a little comfort… I haven’t managed to memorize my lines for Féraponte for tomorrow… I hope Ruxandra isn’t too mad at me… Sheila’s still pretty sick. I have a few errands to run tomorrow (a bit more Christmas shopping), so I can do that on my own, then I’ll do some serious homework tomorrow as well.

Pour réparer des ans l’irréparable outrage. -Racine. Athalie

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