A Grave Grève

French Word of the Day: grève (grev)- strike

This really shouldn’t be the French Word of the Day, it should be the French Word of Everyday.  I always thought people were joking when they said striking was the French national pastime.  And then I got to France.

I’m no longer on my beautiful, non-stop flight in my beautiful aisle seat.  Why?  I got a call at 6:30 this morning telling me my flight had been canceled.  After running around the house cursing American Airlines, I found out this was because the French air traffic controllers decided to have a strike.  They decided to end it at 9am tomorrow, which is 20 minutes after my flight was supposed to land.  It was apparently too important to end it half an hour earlier.

Now, I have a layover in London.  Let’s hope the Londoners decide they’re too cool to follow in the French’s footsteps.

Of course, this is not the only strike in France tomorrow.  By a lovely coincidence, the metro (RER in France) to the airport from Paris is ALSO on strike.  Just that particular line, and just tomorrow.

Hopefully the cabs haven’t decided to go on strike.

Thankfully, I’ll be landing at lunchtime.  Because the French get 5 hours for lunch (ok, only 2, but close), Arnaud is going to meet me where I’m staying to help me with my bags.  He’s not on strike, so he’s a French person I actually like.

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24 Hours ‘Til Paris

French Word of the Day: avion (ah-vee-own)- airplane

The pronunciations I put after the French words are my own take on them.  Really, it doesn’t matter how you pronounce the word; the French will pretend they can’t understand regardless.  This is probably because they’ve learned how to say words 30 times faster than the average human being.  When you ask them to slow down, they speaker faster.  Ironically, this is the only thing they do quickly.

I’m leaving on a jet plane in a few hours.  How am I spending my last night?  Cleaning?  Sleeping?  Finding the solution for world peace?

Nope.  I’m watching youtube videos and writing this blog.

I checked in for my flight already.  They gave me an aisle seat.  Some of you are probably thinking, “Well that sucks!  You should have gone for a window seat!”

I have three words for you: eight hour flight

I want to be able to freely walk to the bathroom without having to wake up the person in the seat next to me by accidentally landing on top of them when I try to gracefully climb over them.  You can’t be graceful on a moving plane.

Or rather, I can’t.  I have enough trouble walking on smooth, unmoving surfaces.

My fingers are crossed that I won’t be stuck next to someone who:

  1. Feels the need to share their life story… more than once
  2. Snores loudly
  3. Is under the age of four
  4. Has an unpleasant odor
  5. Is any combination of the four above

Pray for me and my sanity.

Someone found my last post by typing in “french musical film happy” in a search engine.  Even though my post won’t help them find any, this brings me much happiness.  It probably would have been better for them, though, if the search engine had said “No results.”  It also would have been more accurate.

French Musicals

French Word(s) of the Day: film musical (feelm moo-see-cal)- musical (movie)

I love musicals.  They have ridiculous plots, ridiculous costumes, ridiculous dialogue, and happy endings.  What’s not to love about a man singing and dancing randomly in the rain?

Because he knew I like musicals, Théo gave me the name of his sister’s favorite French musical: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (The Young Women of Rochefort).  It had the songs, the dancing, the colorful and ridiculous costumes.  It even had Gene Kelly (who is fluent in French?  I had no idea.).

Singing in the Rain it was not.

The premise seemed musical-y enough.  Two twin girls (pictured below in their fabulous hats), one a dancer and one a musician, want to get to Paris to sing and dance.  A group of actors come into town, and they decide to try their luck with them.

And that’s where it stopped being like an American musical.

The first example of this appeared in the dialogue.  As there is no way to describe it, I’ll give an example from the film:

Male Dancer #1: We love you.

Twin #1: Aw, we love you too.

Male Dancer #2: So we should sleep together.

Twin #2: What?!

Male Dancer #1: That’s how it works.

Just like in real life, that line doesn’t work in the film.  If that excerpt doesn’t give you enough of an idea, perhaps a clip from a song will do?  How about one from the sailor who moonlights as a painter; he has an “ideal woman” that he paints from his dreams.

Sailor/Painter: I desire her more than/ the thousands of naked women in my wildest dreams

There was also an upbeat number detailing the gruesome murder of a woman.  Remarkably similar to the lyrics in Doris Day films, wouldn’t you say?

The woman that the sailor/painter has been painting as his ideal woman (and the one he vows to marry) is actually one of the sisters.  Predictably, they come close to meeting but just miss each other so many times in the film that they seem even less lucky than Romeo and Juliet.  “But surely,” I thought to myself, “they have to meet at the end.  There’s way too much tension.  And this is a musical.  It needs a happy ending.”

SPOILER: they don’t.

There’s a hint that they’ll meet in the future, but I don’t want HINTS.  I want them making out in the middle of the screen.

Distressed, I told Théo that it was a terrible movie ending and I wanted a happy one.  He said he’d forgotten the ending of that last one, but promised me the next movie would be better: Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg)

It started out well.  The umbrella-shop girl and the mechanic were in love and dancing and singing.  The mechanic doesn’t get derided by his fellow mechanics when he says he’s going to an opera (and not a sporting event), because they’re French.

I was lulled into a false sense of security.

They want to get married, but he gets drafted into the army (during the Algerian War… so the French army was actually in use) and leaves her.  We find out they slept together before he left, and she gets pregnant.  She tells him in a letter.  He writes back happy about the whole having-a-child-out-of-wedlock thing, and about how he wishes he could see her.  Everything seems to be going fine…

Then she marries someone else.  Some rich dude.  Why?  Because the French can’t be happy.

Mechanic man comes back and says, “Why did she marry him?  What about the baby?  I don’t understand…”, effectively expressing the feelings of everyone viewing the film.

In a moment worthy of The Way We Were, umbrella girl comes to his shop years later with his child in the car.  She asks if he wants to see his child, and he says no.

And then it ends.

Théo and I need to discuss what makes an ending happy.  I think a few viewings of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers are in order.

This post is dedicated to my cousin, Bridget, to aid her in surviving the horror that is college-level chemistry.

Les Examens Merdiques

French Word of the Day: merdique (mare-deek)- shitty

I’m starting a French Word of the Day so that everyone can learn French with me.  We’re starting off with my favorite word, brought to my attention by the fabulous Théo.  (I learn the real French from my friends.)  Obviously, I didn’t learn this one in school, even though it describes every French test I’ve ever taken.

Speaking of French tests, I had to take one the other day to test my French level.  I’d been ignoring the increasingly urgent emails being sent to me by the school (“if you don’t take this, our entire school will collapse!”), but decided to finally put them out of their misery.  Not because I’m a nice person.  No, I came to this decision when I realized that my inbox could no longer receive mail.  Three emails a day is a bit excessive.  I didn’t know the French could hold that level of dedication.

They’re probably questioning their decision to make the test all write-in answers.  While I did write the actual answers in some of them, I also used the spaces to write helpful advice for future tests.  For example, “I missed this answer because you only let me listen to the clip two times.  I cannot write that fast.  I recommend three or even twelve times for the future.  Or less questions.  Your choice.”

But in French, of course.

They will also probably reconsider the creative writing portion about “my past vacations.”  Well, maybe just the section entitled “my least favorite souvenir,” in which I gave a detailed description of a bout of food poisoning I acquired in Mexico.

I have no idea what score I received, but I have not gotten a “you need to retake this test” email so I assume I didn’t fail.  I’ll let you know when I arrive.

I gave up on my French friends finding this, mainly because Caitlin is friends with two of them (Arnaud and Théo) on facebook, and because I’m merdique at keeping secrets.

TWO WEEKS!!!!!!!!!

Housekeeping things to take care of:

I had a few questions on this, so: the comment section under each individual blog is where you post comments.  You don’t have to sign in.  The only thing you have to put is your name.  I believe I’m the only one who has access to your email address, but I could be wrong.

Caitlin has been given full reign of designing the blog, so expect it to look different every time you view it.

Last time, no one could keep track of the names of my friends.  I got asked who Ben was (my uber tall friend) multiple times.  To counteract this problem, I’ve made a cheat sheet explaining who everyone is.  It’s on the top of the page next to the “home” and “about me(ghan)” links.

The Beginning of the Great Parisian Experiment

I received a lot of advice before I graduated college.  The overwhelming majority of people urged me to take this time to do things I won’t be able to do when I become a “real adult” (i.e. get a job that doesn’t require taking orders or making photocopies for other people).  Never one to ignore good advice (although my parents might disagree with that statement), I decided to live the next year in a different country.  In 19 days, 2 hours, and 20 minutes, I leave for Paris.  But really, who’s counting?

I’m kind of cheating.  This won’t be a new country.  I studied abroad there in college.  I’m not as nervous as I was a year and a half ago.  This time I know other human beings in the city.  I can also speak more French than “Do you speak English?” and “You are wrong.  The clothes aren’t pretty” which were two of my only French phrases.

Don’t take that to mean I’m fluent in French.  My conversations usually follow this pattern (although in French):

Me: Hi.

French Person: Hi.  How are you?

Me: Good.  How are you?

French Person:  Good.  I went to work and went out with friends.

Me: Sorry, can you repeat that?

French Person:  I went to work-

Me: A little slower.

French Person: I went-

Me: Slower.

French Person: I went to work and went out with friends.

Me: I don’t understand.

French Person: Which words?

Me: Yes.

And then they begin talking in English.

I kept another blog in college, http://meghantravelstheworld.blogspot.com/, but all my French friends demanded access to that one.  It’s hard to write about people when they can read it.  My twin sister, C, (who isn’t coming with me, but should definitely come visit HINT HINT) helped me set this one up in secret.

And so begins my second Parisian Experiment…