Cold Muscles, Two Meanings

With Sheila still feeling under the weather, she made the executive decision to skip her early morning lecture and sleep in. She’d go to her smaller group discussion for the same class later this afternoon, however. I told her that I’d tell Madame she got an email that her class was cancelled. That was easier to explain, and Madame wouldn’t go wake her up to ask if she was sick like she did with Joan that one time… Breakfast today was a bit of a farce. It will end up in a screenplay at some point. Madame was out of sorts, with good reason. I managed to figure out that it wasn’t her daughter’s mother-in-law that was on her deathbed last night and who had passed away between dinner last night and this morning’s breakfast, but it was her mother-in-law. She’s taking the brunt of planning the funeral as well. On top of all of that, since she’s taken up this new walking regimen as part of her diet, she had un muscle froid (literally a cold muscle, but this is what we’d call a sore muscle) in her foot. Before I continue, you need to understand something about French people in general, and about my host mother. When Americans don’t want to curse, they have ways to get around it. For example, instead of saying “Jesus Christ,” we’ll say things like “cheese and rice.” The French do this too. Merde is the French equivalent to the form of “crap” that begins with an “s.” A French person that would prefer saying “cheese and rice” will say MERRRRRcredi. They’ll make you THINK they’re saying merde, but they end up saying “Wednesday.” Not our host mother. Nope. Chuck Testa. She drops bread. Merde. She touches something hot. Merde. Someone calls her cellphone during dinner. Merde. You get the idea. Woman is hysterical, and we love her all the more for it. Back to this morning. Her foot seriously hurts. How do I know? Merde was said a lot. She got a bit more colorful, though. I heard a couple instances of putain (the French equivalent to the only word in the English language that serves as a verb, noun, adjective, and adverb all at the same time and rhymes with “truck”), and even la vache (literally “the cow,” but this would be the noun version of our all purpose gros mot). That wasn’t the end of it. This poor woman could have asked me to wipe down the table after I ate, ban non. She hobbled around the kitchen with her bum foot pointed up in the air because she couldn’t walk on it, speaking in sentences broken up by gros mots “It hurts so bad –putain- but it’s good for me –ah merde!- I need to walk more anyway -oh la la la la- so I can lose some more -LA VACHE- kilos…” wiping down the counter, the table, everything… I was near tears I was trying so hard not to laugh. I didn’t know whether to tell her to take pain medication, or that soaking in the tub would help, or maybe to have that new boyfriend she’s got (the only valid explanation for why she’s left for the past four weekends without telling us where she’s going, and why she’s put herself on this crazy diet and exercise plan all of the sudden) give her a foot rub, so I just said I hoped she felt better and otherwise kept my mouth shut…

It’s getting colder and colder in Paris. Madame may have a cold muscle in the way of a sore muscle, but all of my muscles were sore despite all of my layers on my way to class this morning. My mom has sent me a care package with two pairs of thermal underwear, and I can’t wait for it to get here. I must sound like the biggest nerd on the face of the planet, but I really don’t care. I am a Californian in Paris and I am attempting to cope. Bite me. I gave Professor Clavier my paperwork so he could give me a grade, and Mathilde and Maud overheard. I reminded him that I was leaving right before Christmas, and that was the first they’d heard. They were a little bummed, but they understood. For some reason. Professor Clavier thought that I was from New York. I corrected him. Maud laughed. “You must be freezing!” “Yes I am! I hate the cold!” Professor Clavier had been to San Diego, so we talked about that for a bit, and he switched to English to tell me a little story. Now I know why he talks to me in English when we’re one-on-one like this (he speaks to me in French in front of the class)… his English is pretty bad. He needs the practice. I’ll forgive him. Ruxandra was working with Cécile and Jeremy at the time on our L’Indotée piece. I have a role in it, but for the sake of time, we’re thinking about cutting the scene that I’m in, which I’m totally fine with. I have two scenes in Trois Soeurs (I have to play two characters), so I’m okay with only having those bits to memorize. I didn’t do any work with Ruxandra today at all, so aside from talking to Mathilde and Maud about life in California (they were absolutely floored with the fact that I live in Los Angeles), nothing much happened. I think I’ll shoot my little group an email the day I have my last class and give them all the link to my Facebook so we can all stay in contact. I’m sure Maud, Mathilde, and Ruxandra will add me since I’m pretty close to them. I figure I’d be good to have a few French pen pals to stay in touch with to at least practice my written French with, and if Maud and Mathilde ever get up the courage to come out to Los Angeles (since they love the idea of it so much), I’ll let them know they’ll always be welcome to stay with me.

I had some errands to run right after class. I headed over to Notre Dame since I remembered spotting a tie I wanted to get for my boyfriend as a Christmas present the first weekend we were in Paris. The same shop had some specials on heavy cold-weather scarves, so I bought a couple with the intention of giving them away as gifts… but if it gets much colder… I might test drive them to make sure they’re gift worthy before I gift them away… After I was done at Notre Dame, I went back to BHV for a couple other mini-gifts I’d thought about, namely a whole bunch of cheesy quote fridge-magnets. One has the French translation for “life is too short to drink cheap wine” and that’ll go on the fridge when Sheila and I move in together back in California. I found some Paris scrapbooking stickers, so I picked those up too. It’d be nice to have a small scrapbook to have on the coffee table when people come to visit us.

I headed home to have the leftover chicken that Madame left us for lunch. Sheila was up and moving, and she said she felt a little better. After lunch, Sheila went to her other class, and I stayed home to get some work done. I cleared out my closet and picked out all of my summer clothes, the shoes I haven’t worn and won’t wear anymore, the extra plays I bought that I won’t need, and a whole bunch of trinkets to send home. I did some research on the kinds of flat-rate packaging I can buy at the post office to send home, and I know I can send up to seven kilograms in the biggest package. With all of the stuff I want to send home (assuming it all fits in the package), I know it’s under the weight limit by about 1.3 kilograms… Madame came home and made some dinner for us. Sheila came home a little later than usual since her class ran late. Dinner was a little too eventful. Madame made two pork cutlets for us to eat, and she reheated some of last night’s chicken for herself, then we had a whole lot of potatoes and spinach, then a salad after that. Sheila ate very quickly (much quicker than I did), so Madame offered her some more potatoes, and then she said she made herself too much chicken, so she offered her some. Sheila wasn’t going to refuse, so as Madame was passing Sheila the small dish of chicken, she said “parce qu’elle est un aspirateur.” nonchalantly. (because she’s a vacuum) Sheila and I absolutely lost it. “Ah. Vous comprenez.” (Ah. You understand.) DUH WE UNDERSTAND. I had to explain that in America (in my case at least), we don’t usually call people vacuums. I mentioned that if I were to drop a piece of potato on the floor, I’d say “oh darn, where’s my vacuum?” and one of the family dogs would show up to eat the potato. She said that the idea of calling someone a vacuum because they eat everything is a cute thing here. She then proceeded to call me a petite vitesse (small speedy) ironically, because I eat much slower than Sheila does, but I still manage to clear my plate. Sheila and I laughed about that little joke for the rest of the meal. I’ve now taken to saying “suck it, vacuum” or “l’aspirate, aspirateur” whenever I get the best of Sheila. I’m a little méchante (mean)…

Two classes tomorrow, and I’ve got to stop by the post office to pick up some stamps and a package to stuff full of things to send home.

Hâtons-nous aujourd’hui de jouir de la vie. Qui sait si nous serons demain? -Racine. Athalie

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