The End is Near…

I’m really starting to come down with something. I’ve managed to develop some kind of cough all on my own without coming into contact with anyone that had what I seem to have… regardless, I can’t stop now. I have way too much to do, and not enough time to do it. Sheila and I went to Sweet Briar shortly after noon. I was a little hungry, and Rucy mentioned that she was going to head over to a nearby giant food market to get something for lunch, so I went with her. I picked up some dolmas (it’s a middle-eastern food that’s usually rice-stuffed grape leaves) and some Vitamin Water for lunch, then we left. I headed back to Sweet Briar to eat, pick up my care package from my mom (thank goodness for thermal underwear), and write out my five remaining post cards to send home before Atelier today…

Today’s lesson was relatively short (I’m kind of thankful for that since I’m so tired). Since we now know that aussi is NOT a good choice for a word to shove at the beginning of a phrase to say “in addition to” or “also” what in the world can we use? You have four options, and in order from least elegant to most elegant, here they are… en plus, de plus, par ailleurs, en outre. De plus and par ailleurs are what you’ll hear (or read) the most often. Next, we moved onto one thing that English-speaking students seem to mess up the most… the difference between c’est bon and c’est bien. Believe it or not, there’s really only ONE case where you’d use c’est bien: when you’re describing the quality of something. Example: Hmm. This champagne tastes delicious. C’est bien. Be careful, if you’re going to call it a good champagne (and you add the noun), you change everything and you say c’est une bonne champagne. There are SEVEN cases in French when c’est bon is appropriate. The most direct comparison (or when you’re going to get mixed up) with c’est bien are these two: Food and drinks, and physical sensations. Two quick examples: This pasta is delicious, c’est bon. It’s cold out, but you’re standing in a rare ray of sunlight… c’est bon! The other five cases you’ll hear c’est bon are a bit more random, but they’re very helpful: In place of (or in the case of) ça va/that’s okay/don’t worry about it, c’est fini?/you’re all done?, ça suffit!/that’s enough!, c’est correct/that’s correct (but only in terms of academic things), and “fine” (as in when you’re too tired to keep saying “no”). It’s pretty simple, it’s just a lot more daunting before it’s demystified. Last lesson for today… How would you translate “Don’t cry like that!” Ne pleure pas comme ça! Perfect… for speaking… there’s a better way to say comme ça when you’re writing, and it’s ainsi. It’s more elegant. In this context, ainsi at the end of a sentence is a synonym for comme ça and it’s English translation is “like that.” What about this sentence… “I’m going to buy a dictionary, that way, I will be able to finish my translation.” Je vais acheter un dictionnaire, donc, je pourrai finir ma traduction. Not bad… but it’d be better if we replaced our donc with ainsi… because here, in the middle of a phrase, ainsi is a synonym for donc, and its English translation is “that way” (meaning it has a consequence). You can’t use ainsi every time something has a consequence, of course, it carries with it the idea of “means,” meaning you now have a MEANS of doing something because of something else. If that exists in your phrase, then you can use ainsi. There’s one more thing we can do to that phrase to make it even more elegant… we can do a little inversion of subject after adding ainsi too! Now, our totally elegant phrase should look like this: Je vais achiever un dictionnaire, ainsi, pourrai-je finir ma traduction.

We had Sweet Briar’s “end of the year party” tonight, and it was relatively close to Sweet Briar’s office (and an hour after my Atelier session got out) so there was no point in me going home. I hung out in the library for a little while, then went to the event hall. I hung out with Denzel, Rouge, Rucy, and Max for most of the party (Sheila had class, Joan was working, and Kyle is on his man period was doing homework), eating finger food and catching up. Being at the party made me realize either how many people I didn’t hang out with at Sweet Briar, or how many people didn’t hang out with me. I’m going to wager a guess that it’s the latter. I did come into the program with my little group from my college (that’s not to say we were exclusive, our group consists of people that aren’t from my college back home, after all) but there’s a big group here from one college that didn’t really “need” to branch out, they already had all the friends they ever needed. Toward the end of the party, a few students sang for entertainment, which was nice. I was half tempted to do my Harpagon monologue, but I had only had one glass of wine, which wasn’t enough. Rouge and I took the metro home together (most of the way).

I got home just as Sheila and Madame were finishing up their dinner. Sheila told me that dinner was awkward. Apparently, Madame wasn’t in the best mood, and was grilling her about why we “haven’t done anything.” I beg your pardon? I’ve taken HOW MANY PICTURES of things around Paris and I “haven’t done anything?!” Madame said that we were the first set of students from Sweet Briar she’s had that stayed home for most of the semester. Excuse me, we’re not made of money and we can’t afford to jet off all over Europe. We made our list, we did most everything on it. We’re not in our 90’s, and we plan to come back to France to do the rest of the things on our list. Sheila warned me that since I’m having dinner alone with Madame tomorrow, I might have the same talk with her. I hope to god not, I might verbally rip the woman’s head off. Haven’t done anything my rear end… I have so much work to do! I can’t afford (time or money) to go run around Paris, France, or the continent to suit you. I’m here to study, not to party.

So now I’m ill, drowning in final projects, AND I’m pretty well miffed. This is a wonderful combination. Did I mention I’m also terrible at masking my sarcasm?

Il n’est pas de plaisir plus doux que de surprendre un homme en lui donnant plus qu’il n’espère. -Baudelaire. “La Fausse Monnaie

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