Monday, October 18, 2004

The Lunch

Often in my daily life in Paris I have "little victories." They usually outnumber the little setbacks I have during a week. When friends back home ask me why, since nothing is forcing us to stay or leave, would I ever want to leave the Paradise known as Paris, it is the little setbacks. Little things, like the fact that the French don't believe in waiting on lines. I had this happen again yesterday. I guess I wasn't standing close enough to the register (the cashier was not there) and a woman came up and put her stuff down by the register. Thankfully, I had my stuff on the counter so I didn't have to deal with her. But I was prepared! I may not know French in a fluent manner, but I know enough to say "c'est a moi," if someone cuts and the salesclerk starts helping the other person first (I've had a lot of practice with this). How I digress! Today, however, was a little victory. I am in the process of having a French friend. My son's former maitresse/teacher asked me to go for a walk with her. The first time, two weeks ago, we jogged together. I really couldn't speak much while jogging because I could barely take in air fast enough since I was so out of shape. I thought it was a one time only thing. But today we walked for an hour during the lunch break. She spoke English and I spoke French. It was really nice! Another small victory occurred when I went to the Gap to buy pants for my son. I made it through the whole experience without speaking English! Truly a victory at the Gap! I don't know about other people's experiences in France, although another blogger has mentioned this.... but it's really difficult to speak French in Paris. Everyone, and I really do feel like I'm talking about 90% of the population, speaks English. I will always remember one guy last year who heard me speaking my barely passable French to a person who didn't understand what I was saying (in my defense, it was a very loud place) and told me to speak to him so he could translate. I said "no thank you, I have to learn French because I live here." He said "well I need to practice my English!" I think that's the way many French feel, especially after they hear me killing their language.
I must report that my daughter spent her lunch hour away from me. One of the two friends we invited over two weeks ago had her over for lunch today. She cried last night. She woke up this morning begging us not to send her to school because she didn't want to go to her friend's house for lunch. Finally got her to school and she did the death grip as the teacher pulled her away from me. It nearly killed my husband and me. But of course.......
Maitresse: Elle a eu une bonnee journee/she had a great day
Me (in disbelief): Et le dejeuner/and the lunch?
Maitresse: Elle etait tres heureuse/she was very happy
Nothing is ever easy with kids, at least with my kids. Thank goodness they are cute.
I am happy to report that we sent our absentee ballots in today. Our consciences are clear. We've done all we can.

-- said Auntie M in Paris
9:13 PM



Dear Auntie M,

I am sorry to read that you got so many difficulties to practice your french in France. It definistely is a pity. alors à partir de maintenant, j'écris en français, d'acc' ;-)? D'être expatrié(e) n'est facile pour personne, et les petites difficultés sont multipliées par 10 ou 100. Mais tu as raison, et les manières des gens dans les queues cela m'énerve aussi, et pourtant je suis française...et je vis en Belgique, et moi aussi je suis confrontée à ces "petites différences" qui diminue le plaisir d'être dans des endroits qui peuvent sembler merveilleux.
Juste pour dire que je comprends,

Hugs (là, ça sonne mieux en anglais...je vais pas dire "câlins" quand même? :-))))),

# posted by Anonymous : 1:24 PM  

Auntie M-

I feel your pain when it comes to learning French in Paris. It is amazing how I can complete so many errands without having to speak a word of French.

And I know what you mean about the little victories. I went to a party the other night where most of the people spoke english. There was this older French gentleman sitting on the couch and I began talking to him, because he said he did not speak ANY english. So, I knew there was no way I could chicken-out and start speaking english, because he would not understand.

Now, the question is where else can I find a captive audience who doesn't speak english who would be willing to be patient with my baby French?


# posted by Anonymous : 2:39 PM  

i dont have any touble speaking french to all the french people. i guess its my perfect accent! glad you were able to find another watch!

# posted by Anonymous : 7:40 AM  

Thank you for your offer. I would be glad to read your posts in French. I accept any offer to further my French.

# posted by Auntie M in Paris : 8:02 AM  

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