le three day week-end!

Détail de "Blah, blah, blah" du studio Louise Campbell (Maison d

I only remembered yesterday that I had taken today off from work, which was a very, very pleasant surprise. I’m about to pack up my laptop and head to a neighborhood cafe in the hopes the cute environs will make my apartment searching just a little more palatable. I also used the morning to sign up for not one but two language chat programs. I learned about both of them – Conversation Exchange and Shared Talk – through people I interviewed for this blog. I knew this little enterprise would pay off!

I didn’t actually do any chatting through the chat programs today. I just signed up for them and called it a (baby steps) day. I couldn’t even get my mic to work with one of the sites but whatever, it’s a good start after many weeks of moping around doing not an ounce of anything language-related.

May the weekend bring lots of joy and plenty of bavarder!

(Photo: Detail of Louise Campbell’s “Blah, blah, blah,” by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra)

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(get over the) hump-day inspiration: mr. rogers

Mr. Rogers quote

I grew up watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood on a daily basis. He is one of those people you never have to meet in person to feel you utterly know and love. His voice was so peaceful and his embodiment of community, nurturing, and imagination so total and profound that he still functions like a security blanket for me – one look at his face and I’m instantly calm and content. I also happen to think Daniel Tiger is the most amazingly gentle and wise being that ever existed (yes, I use that word loosely). If I ever have a son he will be named Daniel in his honor. And because I love that name; I’m not entirely batty.

So of course Mr. Rogers would come up with the single most optimistic, encouraging, life-affirming statement of all time. Of course he would say, “Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.” Mr. Rogers is nothing if not a man who miraculously transforms your feelings – from despair to solace, gloominess to good cheer, limitations to opportunities – every time he opens up his mouth.

And every time I read this quote it applies to something new – whatever is going on in my life at the moment. Currently, it’s a reminder that though my charmed apartment life is soon coming to an end, I now have the impetus to downsize my worldly possessions in preparation for traveling the world. I have the chance to see things with the new perspective that comes with a move. My fresh start affords me the possibility of making new friends, finding new places to love, and reassessing what is really important in my life. And if worse comes to worst and I hate my new apartment, that could motivate me to bury myself in studying French instead… Although I really hope that will not be the case!

weekend weekend weekend yay!

happy jumping dog

I can’t wait for this weekend! I’m heading back to Novecento early Saturday morning for more World Cup watching – this time Argentina v. Iran. To ensure we get seats, we’re arriving an hour ahead of opening time and two hours ahead of the game. Waiting around outside with the rowdy crowd will either be a fun adventure or a big pain in the butt depending on the temperature outside. As for the rest of the weekend, that will be filled with apartment hunting (terrible!), apartment cleaning (horrible!), and hanging out, which is still better than what I did last Saturday so I’ll happily take it!

I’ll leave you with this fascinating article I just read in the New York Times, about how people make moral judgments differently depending on whether the scenario is presented in their native or a foreign language. The reason for the discrepancy, the author posits, “is reminiscent of Nelson Mandela’s advice about negotiation: ‘If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.'”

Eeenteresting. And now I’m off to start the weekend – have a good one!

(Photo: Emery Way)

World Cup: rooting for the wish-it-were-my-home team

Watching the Argentina v Bosnia-Herzegovina gameAfter a highly unpleasant Friday and Saturday (which did end in good news, at least), Sunday was a breath of fresh air. Spent Father’s Day in Princeton with my family, the highlight of which was taking selfies with my two year-old niece. Then headed back to the city for the Argentina v. Bosnia-Herzegovina World Cup game at Novecento, an Argentine bar and restaurant in Soho.

Watching the Argentina v Bosnia-Herzegovina game

After waiting outside for more than an hour, my friend Lisa and I managed to snag a table and immediately made friends with a guy named Pablo who was decked out in an Argentina jersey and whose parents are from Mendoza. I told him I was here not because I am Argentine myself but because I had been to Argentina for a measly two weeks in February, loved every second of it, and just wanted to be amongst Argentines again. Even though I felt a little foolish admitting I was a wannabe, he approved and we got along great.

Watching the Argentina v Bosnia-Herzegovina game

The game was awesome in that BIH scored against themselves within 3 minutes, and Argentina held the lead for the rest of the game. The adorable, bedimpled, cartoon-like elfin cutie Lionel Messi scored a goal in the second half, and then BIH scored a goal towards the end, and then there was a nail-biting ten minutes of praying the game would not be tied up and go into overtime. It didn’t, and everyone was joyous.

Watching the Argentina v Bosnia-Herzegovina game

Being amongst people whose country you are deeply enamored of, while they are winning their beloved game and everyone is best friends with everyone else, is a pretty amazing thing. I knew that if I went it would reaffirm my commitment to learn French and Spanish and that it would motivate me to pick up where I left off about a month ago. And it did. I went home and watched an episode of Destinos, the telenovela for Spanish novices that is actually quite engaging in a strange and silly way.

Additional delights of Sunday at Novecento: I ate a huge hunk of lomo, or beef tenderloin, my steak of choice in Buenos Aires. I admired legions of handsome Argentine men both in the bar and on the soccer field. And I decided there would be worse things you could do than making Argentina your adopted homeland and blowing all your vacation funds visiting on a yearly basis. Thinking perhaps next February will find me hang-gliding in Cordoba or hiking in Patagonia…

¿Quién sabe lo que nos depara el futuro?

[I cheated and did that in Google Translate so I have no idea if it is nonsense or not.]

One thing I do know: next Saturday will find me back at Novecento for brunch and the Argentina v. Iran game. Vamos vamos Argentina!

Watching the Argentina v Bosnia-Herzegovina gameThat’s me in the foreground and my new buddy Pablo behind me. The fuzzy focus captures my warm fuzzy feeling. 🙂

i could actually skip this weekend

Martinique

I have an unpleasant experience ahead of me tonight and tomorrow morning and I would love it to just be Sunday already. I’m going to attempt to soldier through with transporting thoughts of tropical paradises, gluttonous feasts, and rent-stabilized penthouse apartments.

It was pointed out to me this week that when bad things happen I immediately throw up my hands and assume I can’t /won’t cope, when actually I have muddled through difficulties of similar scale quite capably for many years. So I guess that in addition to trying desperately to go to my happy place, I could also remind myself of my resilience whenever I find myself catastrophizing about what I have to go through this weekend.

May the next 24 hours go very, very quickly. And here’s to Sunday!… when I will be over the hump, a Father’s Day picnic is to be had, and a World Cup game full of delightfully well-formed Argentines is to be watched.

(Photo: Antoine Hubert)

the best of words, the worst of words: dégueulasse & râler

Finally, the last of the three French party-goers:

degueulasse.jpg

Emmanuel is a sound recordist by day / artist by disposition. He has a bunch of strange and interesting side projects including a festival of boring films and a psychological danger meter. The intrigue of both were heightened by my inability to fully comprehend them in French – but I liked it that way so I didn’t ask for more details in English.

As is to be expected from a man with various hard-to-describe creative endeavors, Emmanuel’s picks for his best and worst words were similarly abstract and esoteric. He cycled through at least three worst words before settling on his absolute worst worst word. One of them was indifférence, which I found hilariously befitting of an artiste. His favorite word was also chosen with poetic logic. Dégueulasse: it’s not a nice word at all, but that’s part of the reason he likes it.

[Spoiler alert – if you don’t want to know how “Breathless” ends skip the next two paragraphs.]

Emmanuel explained (I think – it was not only that the French was slightly beyond my grasp but that the reasoning was, too): Dégueulasse is a crass word that you wouldn’t really say in polite company. In Godard’s first feature film, “À Bout de Souffle” / “Breathless,” the main character, a petty criminal played by Jean-Paul Belmondo, gets killed by the cops after being betrayed by his love, American ingenue Jean Seberg. As he lays dying he looks up at her and says, “C’est vraiment dégueulasse,” and it’s unclear what she’s feeling but it’s clear she’s feeling something very strongly. Then she asks one of the cops, “Qu’est-ce que c’est, dégueulasse?” but it comes out more like, “Qu’est-ce que c’est, deglasse?” It’s the first time she’s heard the word and she has no idea what it means. And then the movie ends. Honestly, I have always been perplexed by this. I know this last scene has deep meaning but I can’t put my finger on it, which makes me feel dumb and in turn, resentful of feeling dumb. I love “Breathless,” but man do I wish that the ending struck a chord with me in any way, shape or form.

Well, it struck a chord with Emmanuel. He thought that this ugly French almost-curse word, when it came out of Jean Seberg’s mouth in such an alien, foreign fashion, was given a new significance. The beauty of the word and the charm and possibilities of the language were revealed. Which I find amusing because to me the word sounds deeply hideous in that horrid American accent. Anyway…

Now for Emmanuel’s least favorite word. It’s not mignon, indifférence, or metastase, though those are three options he seriously considered before settling on:

raler.jpg

Râler – to whine or moan.

Why? Not entirely sure but it has something to do with the fact that while complaining (se plaindre) carries an agenda and implies that something gets done as a result, râler has no orderly purpose and, like its cousin geindre, is simply moaning sadly to make one’s objections known but to no apparent end. Emmanuel seems to think that the French love to râle about everything, good, bad or indifferent.

There might also be something about the r sound that Emmanuel finds grating but I’m not entirely sure. That part of the explanation was beyond my pay grade. 🙂

(get over the) hump-day inspiration: cheesy proverb edition

caterpillar turns to butterfly

I don’t know why I’m posting this since I don’t really buy into it. It looks like something on the wall of a suburban assistant principal’s office and it speaks to me about .05%. I also think butterflies are overrated – their beautiful wings don’t fool me from their creepy bug essence.

But after receiving both bad health and bad home news in the same week, I needed to pretend there could be a silver lining just round the bend. So for this one moment, I will inhabit the brainspace of that glass-half-full cheerleader with unshakeable faith that everything happens for a reason, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, God is carrying us on the beach when there’s only one set of footprints, etc.

the best of words (glass half full / no worst of words edition): ananas

ananas.jpg

Finally getting around to writing up the other two best words/worst words from the party I went to last month. I’m getting the easier one out of the way first – easier first of all because Nico never told me his most detested word, only his favorite one; and also easier because he was a little tipsy and the only explanation he gave was to repeat the word’s various syllables, sounds and rhymes. To wit: “Parce que ananas, banana, bananas, des anana, anan, nana, nanas, des nana.” I asked him if, apart from the sound, he liked the taste of the fruit and he brushed me off, “Le goût, je m’en fou.” To be clear, Nico does enjoy pineapples, but he chose his favorite word for the sound rather than the deliciousness.

Interesting, because Félix’s favorite Spanish word was maracuyá (passion fruit) and my favorite word – in any language – is pamplemousse (grapefruit.) To state the obvious: I sense a fruit theme here…

I need (much) more than two days

Hammock in paradise

The weekend should really be a three-day affair, don’t you think? This weekend I have no plans except to panic/look for an apartment. Ahhhh, stress. I think I picked the wrong week to switch to ineffectual non-carcinogenic deodorant.

I’m just going to pretend I’m on a secluded tropical island with a dark n’ stormy in one hand and a stomach that will allow me to properly digest it in the other. And in my magical third hand, a delightful book that I would read from sunup to sunset instead of Craigslist postings that make me want to stick my head in an oven.

On that note, have a wonderful weekend!

(Photo: Slack12)

(get over the) hump-day inspiration

keep calm and keep on keepin on

This is what it all comes down to, as I sit here too on-edge to go to sleep and too tired to force myself to. My rent is nearly doubling and I need to move within a couple of months, which puts a huge dent in my plans to save all my money and get the hell out of this city. Since I found out a few weeks ago, I’ve been really good about looking into all my options and staying on top of the apartment search, but the search itself is so anxiety-provoking that the more I do, the more stressed I become.

I suppose this could be part of the reason why it’s so hard to keep up with my language learning. Bigger fish to fry at the moment. The only thing to do is just breathe deep and carry on. The chips will eventually fall where they may, and life will go back to normal.

[Breathing break…….]

Encore, en français:

french keep calm and carry on

On y va!