Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Gums et Gommes

Carla and I are happy to report that our gums are in better shape now that we have found these his and hers gum stimulators with rubber tips. The odd thing is that we could not find these anywhere in Paris, and when we got two during our recent trip to Colorado, the packaging was in French. C'est les gommes.

We have lots of pictures to post of our most recent batch of visitors, but that will have to wait since I (Bobby) am heading to Madrid tonight (sans Carla) to give a speech tomorrow. Some bad pieces of recent news: I was not selected for the lectureship post at Queen Mary, University of London; and my application to a position at Trinity College Dublin was summarily rejected. Some good pieces of recent news: Carla was interviewed for a full-time position at the library, I have a new accordéon diatonique (many videos coming soon), and our French classes have commenced.

On my first day of class I arrived to find many of my classmates speaking French to each other. The professor started class, all in French, and after he was done presenting the syllabus he pointed at me and said, in French, "Introduce yourself. Say your name, you likes and dislikes, etc." So everyone looked at me, and I began. Once I had told everyone I am from California, that I am old, but I like surfing and mac and cheese, the professor asked people to pose questions. Where do I live, why did I choose to come to UPMC, etc. When my turn in the hot seat was over we circled around the room. Some people sounded like the have been speaking French for a very long time, but I understood much of it. When we got to one Portugeuse girl she said in English with a red face, "I don't know how to speak French." There was another man who had the same misfortune. Wrong level I guess. The two-hour class went quickly, and once it was finished I was not completely sure if we had homework.

Among everyone I met, I am the only one from the US. Others are from China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Honduras, Uruguay, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, Poland, and Finland. So in order to speak with most of them I have to speak French. I told my first French joke too: When someone asked the proper pronunciation of "Au revoir" I said, "Les chiens français disent 'Arf Warf.'" (The French dogs say "Arf warf.") Only one person laughed while the others asked, "Chiens?" "Oui, vous savez, 'woof woof?'" (Yes, you know, "woof woof"?)

After class I walked back to the metro with the woman from Uruguay and spoke French the entire way. I told her about finding a place to live, and what my husband does, etc. It was exhausting, but fun. Now I am opening up to my colleagues at lunchtime, making a complete fool of myself in the process, but nonetheless it goes hand in hand with the process.

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