to do, and done

atelier.jpg

Things that I still want to do in the near future even though I have taken little to no action on them to date:

  • Spend at least two weeks and preferably two months doing Spanish immersion in Spain or South America.
  • Take a tour of the South of France.
  • Visit a bunch of Europe’s tiny states and principalities: Luxembourg, San Marino, Monaco, Andorra, and Lichtenstein, to be exact.
  • Practice my French conjugation the way I used to in school, with drills and tables and such.
  • Convert my ever-growing French vocab list (2,661 words and counting!) into an Anki deck.
  • Read more than five pages of a book at any one time.
  • Get back to running two or three times a week.
  • Earn an income.

On the other hand…

Things that I have done in the recent past and/or am continuing to do in the present:

  • Committed hundreds of new French words to memory.
  • Learned my way around Paris. Though I still can’t keep the arrondissements straight and probably never will.
  • Got out of town more than once, to bucket list places both near and far.
  • Met a ton of new people.
  • Started taking photographs with my video camera.
  • Finished my first (small) paid assignment in Europe.
  • Started my own documentary project, which can only be described as Grey Gardens, in Paris, with British people.
  • Ate my weight in cheese.

Eight for eight: proof that for everything I have not done (yet!), I have done something else worthy. Because you know that my annoying brain is keeping score.

[The photo is from my documentary project.]

happy weekending!

la samaritaine

This weekend I plan to take advantage of the frigid temps to finally – and I really mean it this time – burrow in at home and compile all my French vocab words into one specially formatted file that will (eventually) become an Anki deck. I say “eventually” because making the actual deck will probably take me another six months to get around to.

For those who are also hunkering down this weekend… here are some interesting reads and little tidbits to keep you company: Continue reading

happy weekend

Agnes Obel Aventine

Last night I went to see Agnes Obel play Bowery Ballroom. She’s a Danish singer-songwriter whose lyrics are in English but to whom I was introduced by Philippe, my parler pal de Paris. So she feels appropriate to talk about on this blog even though technically she is irrelevant.

Anyway… It’s almost the weekend! And I need it, because two weekends ago was taken up entirely by moving and attending an editing workshop, and last weekend I spent one day in Vermont – and two days traveling to and from Vermont. Now I really want to just sit around doing nothing all day. And maybe catch up on anki and duolingo, which can feel nicely meditative and almost like doing nothing.

But – my plans to be lazy were foiled by my 2 1/2 year old niece in New Jersey, who wouldn’t give up the phone to my brother until he said he wanted to talk to me about when I was going to visit. That prompted her to ask me in her squeaky little voice, “Can you come visit me?” Which melted my heart and all my resolve to sit on my butt for two days in a row. I practically promised to come live with her if she would have me.

So, here’s to not being lazy after all, in the name of adorableness and adoration.

And here’s some Agnes Obel to start your weekend:

(Photo: Agnes Obel)

un brin de causette

Thinking Please Wait

Last week I had my first “language chat,” with a man named Philippe from the suburbs of Paris. We talked for about an hour via Skype call – he spoke in English and I spoke in French. It felt strangely intimate despite the anonymity. I got self-conscious because his English was way better than my French. I had thought that speaking without face to face contact would make me feel less vulnerable but it almost made it worse. I’m telling you, learning another language takes a lot more courage than it seems. You have to lean in to sounding like a fool on a repeated basis.

One thing that I found helpful about being on Skype was that when I struggled to find words and he filled in the gaps for me, I could write them down to practice later. If I ever figure out how Anki works – it requires some technical setting up that in turn requires patience I do not seem to have at the moment – I’ll program those words in as my first set of flashcards.

Philippe and I had a good rapport so we arranged to talk again this week…

It feels just like Jordan described – online dating with linguistic in place of romantic aims.

(Photo: Wade M.)

done with duolingo

wooden human looking out window

Finally made it through Duolingo’s French exercises last week so now I have to figure out what’s next. I think I’m going to start doing vocabulary flashcards using Anki and/or sign up for an online language chat buddy. And keep forcing myself back to French Meetups.

Spanish has pretty much fallen by the wayside at this point, except for the occasional Destinos episode. I don’t want to lose the very little progress I made over the two months that I spent studying it but on the other hand this linguist told me that trying to learn two related languages at once is inefficient and will only result in confusion. So I’m taking his advice and focusing on French, which is the one of the two languages in which I am way further advanced.

I had been whiling away my time with Duolingo far longer than I probably should have. Now I turn to the great unknown, wistful already for the zany phrases I won’t be hearing again: ‘Pour qu’il vive je dois mourir.’ / ‘So that he may live I need to die.’ And: ‘Vous mangez des frites bien que vous soyez riches.’ / ‘Even though you’re rich you eat fries.’

Adieu, Duolingo! Parting is such sweet sorrow.

(Photo: Abdulrahman BinSlmah)