Anonymous asked: Hi, um. Weird question, but what's the weather like in Paris right now? I'm flying there in a couple of days and I'll be there through New Year's.

It’s really cold and wet, but you and I both will be going off of the 10-day forecast, which predicts mostly showers for your vacation (and my last days) in Paris.

The Beginning of the End

Quick update: I only have eight days left in Paris. Between visitors and last minute travel, I have been very busy. When I’m alone, I’m prone to bouts of profound sadness, as in sometimes I just have to stop walking wherever I am and sit, even though it’s really fucking cold outside. When I have visitors, I am usually out of it, tired, and generally not a good host. I have briefly looked at apartments at home and just started making an inventory of things to throw away, carry home, and ship home, but not much else consideration for the future.

My mind always wanders back to a few things: my girlfriend, fencing, and the sun. California can only help with 1.5 of those. I’m not sure those are all evenly weighted things, though.

So ambience. Such cocktail. Wow. #paris #france #manhattans

Anonymous asked: What school you go in Paris?

I am not a student, so I don’t attend a university or a language school.

Sexting in French

The French language now has an official translation of the word “sexting,” according to this article from Le Monde:

Le Journal officiel, qui publie les textes législatifs et réglementaires, vient de s’attaquer à un épineux problème, ce qui réjouira les puristes de la langue française, et peut-être les amateurs de textos torrides.

Ces derniers seront ravis d’apprendre que leur activité porte désormais un nom français, homologué par la commission générale de terminologie, placée sous l’autorité du premier ministre. Cette organisation, qui se réunit chaque mois pour proposer des néologismes, a décidé que, désormais, le terme anglo-saxon sexting aurait sa traduction française : la “textopornographie”.

Ce nouveau substantif féminin a été promulgué au Journal officiel le 5 décembre. Et deux synonymes sont proposés : “sexto”, et “texto pornographique”. Ces termes ont fait leur apparition au côté d’autres appartenant au domaine du droit, tels que “pédopornographie”, “plan préventif de restructuration”, ou “vidéoagression”, qui remplacera le terme happy slapping.

The comments are funny, too. Some of my favorites:

"Le sextophone, l’instrument dédié aux sexto" [Link]

and

"Vous êtes bien méchants! Laissons la compétition opérer: dans quelques mois sans aucun doute les américains éperdus d’admiration ne diront plus « texting » mais « textopornography ».
Et cela contribuera à la grandeur de la France et à son rayonnement culturel.” [Link]

Thanksgiving

I made a lightning run home for Thanksgiving. Here are some notes from that:

  • Failed to notice last month that my flight home was cancelled. Showed up at CDG with no flight, Air France politely changed my flight to another one, albeit with a connection, that was at the same time. Missed my connection home because I am an idiot and Delta kindly re-scheduled me with no hassles. I was seven hours later than scheduled, but I made it home.
  • It was hard to speak English during that travel day. Not in that I forgot words and grammar, but in that I felt like it took me time to find my voice, or style. I was constantly asking myself, “Is it normal for me to say that or am I reverting to proper English to frequently?” Similarly, coming back to Paris after three days at home was hard, linguistically. It took me some time to get back into French mode.
  • In addition to warming back up to French, upon landing I found that my Navigo and my phone credit had both expired. Both have been recharged and my French is back in gear, so I feel normal again. A transatlantic flight is like a cocoon, and landing seems like a minor re-birth.
  • Felt really good to be back in my bed.

Le Futur Simple

En revenant de ma leçon de français aujourd’hui, j’étais frappé par cette mélancolie d’hiver de Paris et la prise de conscience que je vais rapidement rentrer aux États-Unis. C’est une de mes fautes la difficulté de considérer l’avenir comme une quantité de temps défini. “Il y aura toujours demain,” je me dis. Donc, je ne suis jamais préparé quand le jour vient. En causant avec un ami hier je me suis rendu compte que j’aime Paris, et je ne me suis jamais vu comme une personne qui dirait cela. Il y a beaucoup de monde qui dit, “Oh, j’aime Paris, je veux y habiter un jour, je savais toujours que je l’aimerais et c’est vraiment magique,” etc.. Je ne suis pas cette espèce de romantique. J’étais plus comme un mercenaire, plus focalisé: “Je m’en fous la culture, la cuisine, l’art, l’histoire. Je veux seulement améliorer mon Français et faire de l’escrime.” Mon amour pour cette ville m’a envahi doucement, sans savoir. Bien qu’il y ait des moments dont je me suis dit “ma vie est certainement belle,” c’était en train de faire les mille petites choses pour suivre mes buts que la villa m’a infecté. Comme on dit avec les substances chimiques, il s’agissait de parties par million. Un ami m’a dit que, selon le fonctionnement, biologie, et recyclage du corps humain, après avoir être dans un endroit pour six mois, chaque cellule d’un corps est 100% comporté par des matérielles de cet endroit. Du niveau atomique, on peut dire que je suis parisien.

Ils vont me manquer, ces atomes. Chacun.

Morning

I woke up. Tried to get back to sleep, but a broken rib wouldn’t let me. It was light out, but cloudy, adding insult to injury. I forced myself out of bed. Put some clothes on. Hoodie just in case. Walked down to the cafe, sat down with my coffee and a newspaper.

There was a crisis amongst French judges. Too many were retiring, but no women were being promoted. Glass ceiling, children, divorce, etc..

There was a commotion. The girl working the outside portion of the pastry shop was arguing with a customer. The employee was white French. The customer black, African, muslim. “Madame, you must show a little respect,” the employee said.

"Look, I just want a croissant. How much is it?"

"1.60"

"Here. I want one."

“‘I want one, please.’”

The back and forth continued, tensions and volumes rising each time.

"Is it too much to say ‘good morning’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’?"

"What’s your problem? Who do you think you are? You are racist!"

A crowd gathered. A social issue was happening and the French had to get involved. And they also wanted baguettes. One man, French, not white, came to the African woman’s defense. Another man, French, white, started yelling at the employee, too “Who are you? You just sell bread! Just take her money and be done with it!”

More yelling and recriminations and denials and counter-accusations. A second employee comes out to help move the other customers along. The African lady storms off. I thought that was the end of it, but she just went to her car to get her husband, also African, taller, leaner, older. He walks slowly beside her, his height allowing him to keep pace, head hung low, brow furrowed. His wife continues the hysterics. They return to the counter, the wife returns to yelling. La serveuse is unfazed. The husband immediately says to his wife, “Just let it go” and already exasperated, pulls her away. He’s been dragged into this kind of thing before. She makes a number of half-attempts to return, still angry. The first of her supporters in the crowd tries to comfort her. She rages all the way back to their car, a black Mercedes sedan, green license plates, non-EU, maybe diplomatic, and they drive off.

The tension dissipates and the crowd disperses. Laughter and exasperation reign. I go back to the paper.

The parents of a young girl who for months received public sympathy for their missing daughter had the crowd turn against them as they were brought in for questioning by the police. Their stories diverged, disintegrated. Unmarried. Drug addicts. The boyfriend had disciplined the child. Others say beaten. The girl was found. Dead. Buried in a forest.

My coffee had cooled. It started raining.

Your Accent is Cute

Having learned a few languages, I have a pretty high bar for what qualifies as “speaking a language well.” I would say that my French is okay. I miss many things in many conversations and announcements over P.A. systems. I make lots of mistakes when I speak, and there are still many things that I feel like I can’t properly say.

People around me, though, tell me that I’m being hard on myself. But I think people have a low bar for what they accept as “good French from a foreigner.” Disclaimers aside, here are some things people have said about my French:

  • Two women at my fencing club have told me that my French accent is cute.
  • One of my French teachers told me that my level of French was pretty advanced. The second teacher told me, “I’ve never worked with a student who spoke as well as you, and the types of questions you’re asking are really questions about perfection.”
  • Last week one taxi driver thought I was Belgian.
  • More recently another taxi driver thought I was Italian.
  • I once sat in a café to read while a Canadian woman spoke French to a French woman. The Canadian woman’s French was distractingly terrible and made me feel a bit of pride that I was better than that.
  • I signed up for a fencing competition that required a teammate, and was randomly assigned one. Later in the tournament, she told me “you know, your French is really good, but the way you say the word ‘putain' is absolutely perfect. Accent, emotion, context, everything!”
  • I have heard countless American girls in bars respond affirmatively to “Do you speak French?” with terrible French and a ton of confidence which probably stems from being a cute girl in a bar in foreign country. Maybe beautiful people can get away with anything, but if they can have such confidence in such bad French, I think I should upvote my own abilities more often.
  • Sometimes I am shocked that I understand most of what is being said in French. What a weird thing, that some creatures can move their mouths and tongues in a million different ways and another of the same creature will understand, or won’t.

Two things that would help my French improve:

  • more accent training, the easiest way is by media consumption: tv, movies, music. I’ve only been working on that last one, and only recently. It’s been a while since I’ve watched French tv.
  • mastery of verb conjugation. All tenses, all day, every day.

To cap off this self-congratulatory post, I will say this: if you’re reading this blog, I probably speak French better than any non-native speaker you know. :)