Ten Sentences in French

4-cafe-scene-1930sI took four years of French in high school and one semester in middle school. I was very good at it, if I may say so myself–and I’m not just taking the teachers’ words for it. Once, at the train station in Paris, I struck up a conversation with an old woman who was there with her dog (one can only make so many silly faces at a pup before one must converse with its owner). We chatted for maybe five minutes, about her dog and the train schedule and where we were each going. She then asked me if I was from the south of France. When I said I was American, she looked shocked. That was probably the best compliment I could have received.

Fast forward something like twelve years and my French is rusty. Like an old bike that’s been rotting under the trees kind of rusty. Every couple of years or so I try to polish it up and take it for a spin, but inevitably decide it’s too much work for too little benefit. But now, as my daughter proves to be quite a quick language learner and my son begins to catch up, I think it’s a good time to break out the old second language so that when the time comes, I can help them learn it, too. So here we go.

My first French teacher started class not with a grammar lesson, but with a set of sentences for us to memorize. I enter the classroom (J’entre dans la salle de classe). I look around me (Je regarde autour de moi). I find my desk (Je trouve mon pupitre). And so on. It worked very well, as every day we all did these things, and we could narrate them in our minds in real time. As I’m not the most grammatical of learners, I decided to start with this technique, and to start slow, only introducing a couple of unfamiliar words as I sort of dip my toes back into it. So here’s the set of sentences I’m going to try to learn this week (and maybe they’ll help reaffirm some other good habits, as well): Continue reading “Ten Sentences in French”

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Keep Moving Forward

resolutions

New Year’s is one of my favorite holidays. It not only speaks to my inner overachiever, but it plays into my sense of self-loathing! Seriously, though, I make resolutions for myself throughout the year–there’s always something that can and ought to be improved upon, some new skill I’d like to acquire, or some magical change I’d like to make–but on New Year’s, it’s culturally sanctioned. When the calendar changes, we change. That’s the idea, anyway.

Now, you might be thinking that no one really follows through with resolutions past, say, February, but I do. One year I resolved to eat (on average) seven servings of fruit and vegetables per day. That one lasted through the summer. One year I resolved to try as many new foods as possible and to revisit foods I thought I didn’t like. I blogged about that one, to try to keep myself honest. That lasted a solid ten months (the holidays, which for me begin on my October birthday, always trip me up). One year I resolved to get involved in the theater and spent the next five years constantly in or working on the crew of a play.

Every year, I come up with literally hundreds of things I’d like to change, but I’ve found that the only way I can follow through and feel successful is to focus on one item, and it can’t be anything I have to do every day because if I miss one, I feel like I failed and am apt to give up entirely. (Note how my fruit and veg resolution included the phrase on average–there’s built-in amnesty and a chance to play catch-up). It also shouldn’t be too specific. If I say I’ll lose 15 pounds and I only lose 12, I feel like a failure. If I say I’ll run three times a week and I get a long-running cold: failure. Continue reading “Keep Moving Forward”

I’m Thankful I Learned to Be Flaky

I used to be the kind of person who never started a book without finishing it, as if the act of quitting would somehow impugn my intelligence or prove I wasn’t committed to my education, or that it would somehow be an act of disloyalty to the author or the academic world or myself–I’m not sure. This wasn’t just books for school–I was equally hard on myself when I’d picked up a book for personal enrichment or even for fun. I was not a rule breaker in general. I did my homework and I showed up for class, always on time. I liked rules: they gave me a sense of confidence in myself and the world around me. I did not question them, or life in general. I simply wanted to be (and be perceived as) good. Continue reading “I’m Thankful I Learned to Be Flaky”

Treat Yo Self

treat-yo-self
Two of my favorite members of the Parks & Rec crew. Oh, how I miss that show. The whole series is up on Netflix. If you haven’t seen it, WATCH IT. If you have seen it, WATCH IT AGAIN.

When I started losing weight at the beginning of the year, I made a list of rewards I would give myself as I passed each milestone. That list was in my phone, and I would post it here, but my husband worked his geeky magic to make my phone run faster and somehow, the list was lost in the process.

I believe it went something like this: Continue reading “Treat Yo Self”

30 for 30: Take Voice Lessons

First learning to play the guitar. (Several years later, I'm still learning.)
First learning to play the guitar. I’d show a picture of me singing, but I don’t have any of those.

Over the past couple of weekends, I took voice lessons. Two lessons, in all, which is plural, and thus technically fulfills my goal to take voice lessonS. So–that was fun.

I have always loved singing. I’ve been in three musicals (with a very very very short solo in one of them), and auditioned for quite a few more. As a kid, I got tremendously car sick whenever we’d drive anywhere (a malady made worse by the twisty mountain roads we had to traverse to get out of our 300-person town) and to help battle that, I’d sing. I probably know next to a billion songs, or I did before childbirth started turning my brain to Swiss cheese (I know this is a lot of parentheticals, but I swear, having a baby makes you stupider, and I really want the world to know it). I used to sing in the shower and on the toilet until I went away to college and lived in a dorm where I didn’t want everyone to hear my bathroom singing. Partly because toilet singing makes you a dork, and partly because despite the good acoustics bathrooms have to offer (Weird Al recorded his first track in a bathroom with his drummer beating on a suitcase)(damn parentheticals)(okay I’ll stop), I have never considered myself a particularly good singer. So I thought I’d study up. Continue reading “30 for 30: Take Voice Lessons”