Monday, November 14, 2005


I haven't figured out how to put all of the right accents on the words and names of towns and stuff. Somehow I feel that this is important for your understanding -- like you're not getting the full experience of a word without the accents. Is this snobby? I'd like to think that I'm just learning the language more, and that the accents actually mean something to me now.

It seems that something has started to click for me in terms of my understanding of french. I wouldn't now I completely "get it" or I can "magically speak French," as was promised to me...and which I'm still waiting for. No, it's simply a point where I start just listening to what is being said, instead of hearing the sounds as code for English -- instead of having to translate everything that I hear into English. I can understand a lot more now that this has happened. You know who is really easy to understand? Game show hosts. They can articulate like nobody's business.

Because of this change in my head, I find that the things around me - objects, places - have taken the French word as their rightful name. For example: I wrote an email to Jim in which I referred to the train station as the gare. I would never say that in America, obviously, and I don't think of the train stations in America as anything else. It is a train station. But in France it is the gare.

You can be sure that when I come back, I'll use a really affected French accent when I order creme brulee.

In other news, Serge Gainsbourg's L'histoire de Melody Nelson becomes increasingly creepy every time I listen to it and understand the lyrics more.

This weekend I went to visit Catherine, who is working in Montbeliard. She had mentioned (okay, complained) before that the town is dull and industrial, that her room is tiny, that she lives really far away from the center of town. I say: yes to all. Of course, I had a lovely time just hanging out with her. We didn't do anything special -- listened to music, cooked on the hotplate in her room, looked through magazines, took walks in town. Actually, the most exciting thing that we did was she let me cut her bangs. She has really long hair with halfway-grown-out bangs, which she wanted shorter. So I did it. I think it looked okay, especially considering I did it with a pair of child's saftey scissors.

It was gray and wet most of the weekend. We walked up to the woods, which took at least an hour just to get there. It made me realize how lucky I am that I can be out of town limits in 15 minutes.

We also went to Belfort, which is a 15 minute train ride away. The day was gray and raining, so we spent most of the afternoon in a tea shop. I've been told it's a very charming town. Right before sunset, the rain stopped, so we walked up to the old citadel. It was kind of creepy and empty as we walked through all of these old ruins and down the canal of the moat.

What you see below is, by far, the prettiest part of Montbeliard. Right there. Actually, the town has quite a large, lovely garden and some cute areas of the downtown. A lot of it, though, is highways and factories.

I have today, Monday, off too. Who knew that in coming here I'd fulfill two fantasies at once?: 1) Living in France, 2) Automatic 3-day weekends.


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