F as in Frank.

This winter I spoke a lot of French with my in laws when I stayed with them in a remote part of Canada. Now I am exhausted. These days there are only a few people I enjoy talking to. They are:

  1. People who work at At&T and live in the Philippines
  2. Lisa who works at Amazon
  3. Anyone from my health insurance company
  4. Steven who works at the front desk at my gym

Here is a recent conversation:

Person who is a human but seems like a robot: Hi and thank you for calling AT&T. Thank you for being the best part of AT&T.

Me: You’re welcome?

Robot Person who says their name is Antonio but they are speaking with a Filipino accent. Is the call center in Italy? It seems like it is in the Philippines. It’s unclear: Can I have your first and last name but only say your last name’s first letter?

Me: Sure. Alexis L.

Antonio DaVinci–are they happy working at this call center? are they fulfilled in their life? do they get good benefits?: Thank you Miss Alexis L. How can I assist you today? It’s a great day at Amazon.

Me: I thought I called AT&T.

Antonio who is now saying to please call him Pope Francis because this call center is actually located in Vatican City: We are all owned my Amazon now.

Me: Wait, didn’t I just speak to you when I called my health insurance company?

Pope Francis: Yes.

Me: So that was Amazon too? Geez. We need to elect Elizabeth Warren.

Pope Francis who is now saying his name is not important and I can just call him a number because he’s really happy to help me, which makes me wonder if Amazon is stripping him of his own humanity: I’m not really a political person but could you please give me the code I just texted to your phone.

Me: Um, sure. KLF. F as in Frank. W 2. S. S, as in Sam.

Person #451: Okay, F as in Frank. S as in Sam.

Me: R as in “are you happy?”

Person #451: Y as in Yes.

Me: B as in But, really? Are you?

Person #451: L as in listen, it’s the best I can do right now. At least I don’t have to work night shifts.

Me: L as in love as in do you have people in your life who love you? Have you fallen in love?

Person #451 who is now saying his real name is Rodrigo but please don’t I say it because it sounds flat and horrible in my mouth: You’re the best part of At&T/Amazon/your health care company that you owe $1,121.58 to and you really pay that soon.

Me: S as in sorry for getting too deep.

Rodrigo who says it’s always warm where he is and he learned English really quickly because it’s a pretty easy language, so that’s good: No apologies necessary, Miss L. I am happy to assist you if you will just tell me the nature of your problem.

Me: I just need you to send me the Amazon package that you just sent me but it got lost, so can you just send it to me again but I don’t have to pay for it. It’s strange I even think this is possible but with Amazon it seems like this actually may be possible.

Rodrigo whose sister is named Jenny and she’s a nanny in Hong Kong: No worries! I can definitely help you with that today, Miss L. Serving you is a privilege and an honor.

Me: R as in really?

Rodriguo, brother of Jenny who he never sees except on whatsapp: S as in let’s stick to the script.

Me: Wouldn’t that be L?

Rodriguo Jr. whose father taught him to read late at night after he got home from his job: Yes, Miss. L. Apologies for that mistake. You are the best part of Amazon! No worries!

Me: I feel so weird right now.

Rodriguo Jr. who did really well in school and always wanted to go to a university but needs some just flat out cash to do that: No, no. Don’t feel weird, Miss L. I’m happy to assist you with this capitalistic transaction that is horrible for the environment and is destroying our communities! No worries!

Me: Listen, I can just pay the $12.99 for the thing I bought which I can’t even remember what it is because I buy so much stuff from Amazon. Honestly, I wasn’t even planning on calling Amazon. I was calling AT&T to get an international pass on my phone for when I am in Canada.

Rodriguo Jr.: We are happy to replace it for you and then also send you a weirdly written request for a recommendation of your product that was made somewhere in China instead of in the shop near your house.

Me:  Man, tariff wars? Am I right? Super weird. This whole wine thing is bogus.

Rodriguo: If I agree with you, will you respond to the optional survey that will be sent to your email?

Me: No, it’s okay. You don’t have to agree.  I will say that I’m definitely going to fill out the survey but honestly I probably won’t. Not because I don’t want to but just because I try to delete anything in my e-mail that doesn’t use my time wisely.

Rodriguo: Understood. It’s a great day at Amazon.

Me: Listen, I have to go look at Instagram. Thanks for sending me the new product for free.

Rodriguo: No worries!

Me: I don’t know how to change things.

Rodriguo: No worries!

Me: Yes worries! So much worries. Your economy is horrible right now.

Rodriguo: No worries! Mondays are the worst, right?

Me: Oh man. Is Rodriguo even your real name?

Rodriguo: No. I feel unsafe telling clients my real name. Rodriguo isn’t really even a very common name here in the Phillipines. In 2005, the most common name in the Phillipines is Joshua. You just gave me a Spanish sounding name because of your own ignorance and bias.

Me: Understood.

Rodriguo: No worries.

Me: No worries.

Rodriguo: G as in goodbye.

Me: I wish we could put our happiness levels on a scale and see if I am actually  happier than you? Maybe I’m not. I mean just because I’m calling from a strong economy, a world super power. Maybe I have more stress?

Rodriguo: Maybe.

Me: N as in no, your right. It’s clearly better to live in a strong economy. I hate the term “third world country.”

Rodriguo: Thank you for calling AT&T and for being part of our global family. Have a great rest of your week and enjoy the free HDMI cable you just bought for your TV!

Me: Thank you. I’ll fill out the survey. I really will.

Fin.

 

 

 

 

Transcript of my session with my French psychoanalyst.

Vivian Veverre: Hello. Please sit.

Me: Thanks.

VV: Now. What is it that bothers you?

Me: Um, well I guess I am a bit perplexed about why I always feel like I have to do something while eating.

VV: Ah, aha! Of course! Tell me about this problem.

Me: Well itś just like every time I make lunch, I think ¨I feel like I should also be reading The New Yorker.¨ I´m pretty far behind in my subscription. Or ¨I just made this salad but I feel like itś wasting time unless I am also on my computer looking at facts about wine or listening to the news or listening to a podcast about couples who clean houses together.¨

VV: Okay, interesting! Okay, I see. Now tell me about your father.

Me: My dad and I are like buddies. We hang out and fix stuff together. Well sometimes. Or like we will go for a walk in the woods together. Or sometimes I ask him if he has any shoe glue.

VV: Ah! Fascinating! Absolutely fascinating.  Now, tell me about your early childhood memories.

Me: Um I hated eating lunch at school because it was very loud so sometimes I just ate like half of a bagel and then drank a juice box and then didn´t really eat anything until after I played lacrosse then I ate like as much food as I possibly could. I was really skinny. I had a lot of anxiety in high school. High stress environment.

VV: Hmm. I am not as interested in this. Let me hear more about the shoe glue.

Me: Oh I just use it to fix my shoes. My dad has like a giant bottle of it. I don´t even know what it really is or if you can just go buy shoe glue somewhere. Actually it might be called ¨shoe goo.¨ I don´t really know. I think the bottle is from 1976. It´s like an old canned peaches bottle he has or something. I wouldn´t even know where to buy this stuff.

VV: Ah yes, the absence of knowledge about our most intimate expressions of self. C´est la vie.

Me: Yeah, but like when I´m eating lunch should I be doing something else.  I´m sort of a Buddhist and when I go to meditation retreats we specifically don´t do anything but eat. We don´t even talk to each other.

VV: Let me ask you this, my little rabbit, does the shoe glue always fix your shoes?

Me: Yes, most of the time, yes. Except for my winter boots. Listen lady, don´t buy shoes from Aldo. They fall apart and shoe glue isn´t good for fixing like the cracks in the rubber. I feel like my dad sometimes uses the shoe glue on his skin cuts. I´m not sure about this but I have my suspicions. Also,  I wish everything I bought lasted about 10 years longer than it does.

VV: I think you have metaphorically asked your dad to repair your own broken life.

Me: Good God. Really? Wait, so should I be doing something while I eat lunch?

VV: Yes. I think you see him as a fixer and without him, you, like your shoes, will fall apart.

Me: But I help him with technological stuff all the time. Like he calls the app ¨Next Door¨ ¨Neighborhood.¨ And some people were heckling him on it and I told him not to post questions anymore.  He´s very concerned about the air planes that fly over my parents´ house. Or like he will get stuck on an email problem for days on end and I will come over and do like one thing that takes 6 seconds and he will be so happy it´s fixed.

VV: Technology is your generational way of seeing the world. You are trying to get your father to be younger and you are refusing to accept change.

Me: Wow, my mind just exploded. And, so I should not be reading the news while eating lunch, correct?

VV: What is ¨lunch?”  What is ¨the news?” Is anything news or are we all just repeating the moments of other people´s lives over and over?

Me: Holy merde. I have no f-ing idea what that even means, man.

VV: Please don´t use that language in here.

Me: Sorry.

VV: Whether you do something while eating lunch or not do something while eating lunch is not the question.  The question is the question.

Me: Wait, what is that question?

VV: The question.

Me: Like, the question? Like I just say question while raising my voice up, like a question? like this?

VV: Yes.

Me: Oh.

VV: Our time is up.

Me; Okay.

VV: Not just now, but in general. ¨Our TIME is UP.¨

Me: Like humans?

VV: Yes. Exactly and maybe animals too, and also now for this session. It´s been 45 minutes.

Me: Well, okay. Thank you for this .  . .um, well for the psychoanalysis. I feel totally defeated and unsure about anything.

VV: Good. Yes. You are returning to an infant state.

Me: Cool. That will be useful in my daily life. I don´t even know if I can still walk. Thanks for all this help.

VV: (bows her head).

Me: (bows my head).

VV: (looks up expectedly like I should say something)

Me: (bow my head again and notice that my shoes need shoe glue)

VV: (still looking at me weird)

Me: (leaves)

FIN.

 

 

Nous dorme sur le tren parce que nous n’avons pas argent pour un hotel.

Learning French is so sad. God, I’m depressed. Thanks a lot, Memrise.

I feel like if Americans made these language examples, they would be a little more chipper.

For instance, today I am having to learn this phrase “We slept on a train because we didn’t have money for a hotel.” Oh sad, Memrise! So sad!

I think Memrise is actually designed by people in the Netherlands but I bet they are using French consultants. I would highly recommend them to use super optimistic, extremely patriotic type American consultants.

Instead of this phrase:

Je avoir mange cette vielle pomme parce que je n’ai pas les argents et tout le monde ont les travaileux mais pas moi. (I have to eat this old apple because I don’t have any money and everyone has jobs but me).

Why not learn something like:

Je suis le mieuller! Vive aux etas-uni! (I am the best! Long live the United States!)

Instead of the French phrase:

Je suis malade parce que j’etais “striking” hier soir parce que je travaileux pour le SNF trens et maintant je suis tres fatigue et j’ai faim. Ou est mon gillet-jaune? C’est perdue? Bien sur. (I am sick because I was out striking last night because I work for the SNF train system and now I am very tired and sick. Where is my yellow vest? It’s lost? Of course.).

Try this:

Toute le monde est super! Je suis tres contente manger toute le nouritture. Miam! Cheetos! Miam Labatt Blue! (Everything is great! I am very happy because I eat all of the food. Yum. Cheetos. Yum Labatt Blue).

Instead of the French phrase:

La vie, c’est difficile. Metro boulot dodo. Nous vive et allors nous somme morte. (Life is difficult. Go to work, sleep, eat (rat race). We live and then we are dead).

How about showing someone just chanting with their fist (this phrase literally won our election. Oh remember those days when America made sense?!):

Oui! Nous pouvons! Oui! Nous pouvons! (Yes! We can! Yes! We can!)

Also, all of the people in the examples should be super excited. The French people who say the phrases are super beautiful yet speak in low voices that make me want to find the nearest cafe and drink there for a few hours while speaking of how horrible the government is.

But, maybe that’s the point, Memrise. Maybe you are telling me, don’t get your hopes up. This is France. It is a secret country. Don’t come here. We are rude. We don’t want to speak French to you.

But, aha! Memrise, you tricky bastard, I know France and I know that in fact French people are incredible. They will listen to you speak horrible French and they will respond or they will just help you and speak in English. Then they will probably give you some wine and some cheese. They are a country of dark beautiful owls.

Okay, it’s time to learn more French phrases. I think I am learning this one next:

“Death, my son, is a good thing for all men; it is the night for this worried day that we call life. It is in the sleep of death that finds rest for eternity the sickness, pain, desperation, and the fears that agitate, without end, we unhappy living souls.” — an actual quote from the French writer, Bernardin De Saint-Pierre, from the book Paul et Virginie.

FIN.

Je les vois!

Last night I was standing in a “winter market” (aka a place in Buffalo that has outdoor music in the winter with beer and alpacas) with my friend, Aurore.  Yes, she’s French. Yes, I am also French because I hang out with people like Aurore and speak French with her. Nationality is fluid. I can be French if I want.

This is in Buffalo, NY. It’s winter here all the time because of the curse that happened a long time ago that made us have winter 6 months out of every year but now we are all like, haha suckers, global warming isn’t affecting us that much and we have thick blood. So we are pretty happy with our Narnia.

People surrounded us drinking Rusty Chain beers and casually chatting about their jobs at Key Bank or about their recent purchase at Home Depot (we aren’t fancy here). I had a Great Lakes Christmas Ale in my gloved hand. I explained in French to Aurore that over Christmas, my husband, Vincent’s family would be coming. Mon belle frere et sa femme. Ma belle mere et mon belle frere. It’s really not that interesting to translate what I said in French but just know that last night, if you were to walk by two chic looking women speaking French, that would have been me. You probably would have been like, wow, that woman looks fabulous. I bet she makes $18,000 a year, and yet she’s so stylish she looks like a millionaire and the fact that she’s speaking French ups her class a bit. Oh yes. I could feel the wind through my hair as I become socially mobile, lofting myself up to to the leisure artist class that doesn’t have to have a real job. I know that the French language is my ticket. I just know it.

Anyway, Aurore is really nice about gently correcting me when she sees fit. She’s not annoying about it, like some other people (no names but Dave and Cathy I am talking about you even though these aren’t your real names but just the names I call you because I don’t want to learn your real names). Aurore will let me speak for most of the conversation in broken French and it’s only when I am talking like a French cave woman that she offers the correct phrase. In this case, I was saying “Je vois leur.” I was trying to say, I see these people all the time but I forget their names. Aurore was like, “Je les vois.” And I was like, quoi? Les livres? And then she explained it four more times and then I was like, Oh Je comprends! It’s reflexive, I think. I’m learning that now from my French textbook.

So, anyway after Aurore smoked a cigarette (I know they are so bad for you but they do make people look really cool) and I drank the rest of my beer, we went to this chic hotel in Buffalo where the floor of the bar moves. It’s called Hotel Curtis. It’s really wild. You can feel kind of seasick if you are drinking too much alcohol, but it’s worth it. The floor literally moves in a circle and you rotate around the bartenders. So cool.

But, anyway, back to the part where I am elitist. Today I went out big box store Christmas shopping. It’s fun to be a capitalist at Christmas time. Weirdly, two different male clerks were like “Let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.” I wanted to be like, “Oh there are a million things you could help me with.”  Could you help me:

  • figure out how to use my mind to solve my plot in this novel that an agent is interested in rather than spending all my time thinking about my day job?
  • provide small luxurious comforts to me that just make my life easier, like the way it feels when you are in the Delta Comfort room of an airline. I want my life to feel like that more instead of feeling out of breath and sweaty all the time and also starving because I don’t have a lunch break and also don’t spend money on food for lunch because I can’t afford to do that.
  • help me figure out class structure in America. I feel both extremely wealthy (clean running water, car, endless food in fridge, warm heat, nice clothes) and also like I am struggling all the time (walking to work to save carbon and money, going to sell my car soon so we only have one car, living in an apartment yet owning multiple houses so as to save money and have a good retirement instead of working my whole life at a job).
  • maybe just like give me a quiet room where I could sit and read a book and then someone who was really friendly and loving could come talk with me instead of me having to deal with all these acerbic people at my job that totally exhausts me? is this the normal American experience? how do I become loving with my coworkers when all I want to do is tell them they are asking me to do a million things and driving me up the wall? (or how do I convert them into characters in my manuscripts so that they are unrecognizable to themselves and in some way I can kind of love them for being so difficult.)
  • share your experience with me about people in your life–why are people so difficult? you want to have these easy relationships but everyone’s so prickly and aggressive even though you are literally out of breath trying to make things better for everyone else?
  • is there going to be a point when I can just kind of focus on academics and intellect rather than feeling like I am somewhere between a custodian and a personal assistant? why are there not teaching jobs left in higher education? I don’t want to be an adjunct anymore but I so want to teach at a college. it was my favorite work. why?!

I don’t know these answers. I do know that there is this department at my work. It’s called Translation. Whenever the neurons in my mind are absolutely fried because of dealing with coworkers, I just walk into Translation. It is like another dimension. They joke around. They laugh. They are funny. It smells normal in their room. There is sunlight. Everyone is smiling. People seem easy going. It is amazing. It is no surprise to me that the best part of my job is translation. This is the department that works with language. They understand the beauty of language, of complex communication systems. They have that je ne sais quoi that the other departments don’t quite have.

They are just like Aurore. Just like Aurore and me standing outside in the cold night air in Buffalo, NY with a good beer in our hand, smiling and laughing and we are away from work and away from anything stressful. Until we are rotating around in a bar that moves, circling around the city. We are there, together, speaking two languages and maybe trying to live in two countries at the same time. La vie est belle. La vie est belle, mes amies. I will move to France one day. I just know it.

 

 

I have the funniest story for you, hon.

Okay so I’ll tell you, I’m the kind of gal who just likes to kick up her legs on the weekends and pour some pinot grigghh and just relax. Yes, mam. I like to get that no fat popcorn from this store that cooks all my meals for me. It has this parmesean cheese. Delicious. Bible swear: delicious!

But then last weekend, the funniest thing happened to me. Oh gosh. Goodness gracious, this was funny. I can’t believe it because nothing like this happens where I live. But, when you live near a graveyard, I guess . . . you know, Bible swear, I have my masters in personal computers! True thing! I just got a chill I like your hair so much.

And I’ll tell you, I have grandkids and I will share a video of them right now for you before I tell you about the funny thing with the open grave. Oh  boy. That one’s a ringer though. Do I have lipstick on my teeth? No? Good. It’s called Cary’s Pink. You know, from Sex and the City. I order it at the same place that makes my food. They also will order you bulk peanuts and do your Christmas shopping if you want. Or maybe you celebrate Channukah. I don’t know your religious affiliation. I went to a Catholic school for ten years and oh those nuns. I dream about them sometimes in their underwear. God, those dreams are a little fudged up, if you know what I mean. Know what I mean? Bible swear! That underwear is unnerving!

Oh but the video, yes, they are here in this living room. See, them? That’s Owen and Gwen. They are precious. Just absolutely previous. Like the elves who live in the North Pole. Yes, Gwen is drinking a chocolate milkshake. Yep. And yes, that is Owen’s personal computer. How old is he? 7 months. He loves computers! We let him watch Sing Your Way Out of Problems if You Are Cold: The Movie! All the time.  He really enjoys dressing up as the princess from that movie but his uncle, Uncle Kevin, well he’s kind of a conservative fellow and isn’t too happy about the dress. Oh, yes, that’s Owen, now he’s drinking a mocha latte from Starbucks.  I mean we don’t let him after 7pm! Not like some people! Gosh. Geez. Know what I mean? But, grandparents can spoil their grandkids. Amiright? Amiright? I just got a chill! Bibles!

The funny thing? Well, the funniest thing is . . . well I live by a graveyard. Well, I live in a subdivision called “Heaven” and it’s near a graveyard. It was real cheap. Real cheap property over here.  It’s near Cheektowaga.  I’m sure you know it.  I live there with my friend Gal.  She’s my gal pal. We do everything together. She’s seventy-nine. I’m fifty-nine. Do I look old? The other day a gal from Starbucks told me I looked like a fashion model. Ha! Isn’t that the funniest thing? I mean sure the cheekbones but these legs? No! No way! We are having ham for dinner tonight.

No. Nope. No way. Bible swear! The funny thing is about the graveyard. Well, you know, you know, you know, the graveyard has these bunnies in it and then one day this one bunny must have gotten hold of someone’s dead hand . . .

You know, what? I have to go! I have to get going! I do! Look at the time! It’s noon. I have an appointment with Kenton Electronics at noon thirty. Bible swear and then I have to go to my Zumba class. I used to be a professional ballerina. I just got a chill. All I want to do is sing that song from Sing Your Way Out of the Cold: The Movie!

Oh the hand? Nope. Oh it was nothing. Just a little dead hand. Boy, that ham was good last night. Gal used pineapples. She is a genius. A genius! Now, is it raining out? I really need my umbrella. Fashion models can’t get wet! Ha! Bible swear. I’m getting so many chills I’m freezing.

End.

It’s a real problem.

As you know, I am learning French.

As you know, I don’t listen well in French.

This means I do most of the talking.

This is a bad approach. It’s a real problem.

Or is it?

I am thinking about power lately and how so many daily conversations exhaust me. I am wondering if instead of trying to improve myself or be like the people I admire, I should instead just become the kind of person who speaks all of the time, relentlessly, without thought and meaning? As you know, a blog is a great way to do this.

I could become a person, who in a conversation, speaks really loudly. Like I am saying normal things, but I’m yelling them so the other person has no choice but to quiver out of discomfort. Their throat closes up and they cannot speak because they are so uncomfortable and you are making this particular moment of their life miserable. They will remember this moment their whole weekend and the memory will taste at first like rust and then like spoiled milk in their mouth.

Like, I’ll be saying something extremely important like, “I think you need to work this shift you don’t want to work” but instead of saying it in a gentle way, I transform it into this:

“SOMEONE HAS GOT TO COVER THIS SHIFT AND WHY NOT YOU, YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? I MEAN I HAVE BEEN DOIN’ THIS SHIFT FOR YEARS AND I THINK THE TIME IS RIGHT FOR YOU TO DO IT BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW YOU AND TO ME YOU LOOK RATHER MEEK, LIKE A FORGOTTEN TISSUE IN THE RAIN.  I THINK YOU NEED TO WORK THIS SHIFT IN THIS COFFEE SHOP WHERE WE BOTH WORK AND I THINK YOU NEED TO DO IT IN THE MORNING, WHEN NO ONE ELSE WANTS TO AND YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? DO YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? DO YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? I MEAN WE HAVE TO HAVE SOMEONE DO THIS SHIFT, SO THAT PERSON IS YOU. WE DON’T NEED NO MORE PEOPLE. WE NEED YOU TO DO IT. YOU NEED TO DO IT. NOW. RIGHT? RIGHT! I AM GOING TO GO BUY A COFFEE AT TIM HORTON’S BECAUSE I LIKE TO USE MY DISPOSAL INCOME THIS WAY!”

I find it much more relaxing for people for me to yell-talk at them. I also really enjoy fragrances from Bath and Body Works. I like to spray as much raspberry scented room spray around me wherever I go. I also like to wear vanilla scented hand lotion. I like the aroma I create when I walk in the room. It is kind of a cheap, fruity smell that makes your  nose softly vomit. I also like to be as angry as possible all the time. I also like to smoke cigarettes because it makes my voice get a scary edge to it and it also signals to the world, “I AM NOT AFRAID OF DYING MORE QUICKLY THAN I NEED TO! GIVE ME MORE BODY SPRAY! I AM ON MY WAY TO BATH AND BODY WORKS RIGHT NOW! I NEED MORE OF EVERYTHING! EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD! NOW! ME! ME!”

Part of me thinks I should take a more enlightened approach and have a quiet power. I should, like Theodore Roosevelt, walk softly with a big stick. I should be more of a Buddhist in my French skills. I should quiet my whole body so I am able to listen to the other person.

There is someone I know who completely quiets her entire self when I speak to her. She has this beautiful presence that reminds me of a powerful, yet delicate artist from the 1960s (someone like Sylvia Plath or Anne Sexton) and she invited me over for tea and she sat against the dark blue background of her house and she listens deeply to me, when I talk in either English or French. Sometimes she listens so intently that she takes a few moments to think before responding. Then when she does respond it is with an analytical mind that really has thought of what you are saying from every perspective. Her conversation is so fresh it reminds you of the steam that comes off ice cubes when you take them from the freezer.

But, what’s the point in being a beautiful person? What’s the point in nobility? Do these things still exist? Should we become the people we admire? Or should we just give in to our lowest human nature?

fin.

Pageboy Shag

I’ve spent half my life trying to look French. I got my haircut last Wednesday. It’s called a “pageboy shag.” It’s amazing.

So, now, I’ve finally succeeded. . .the world is mine: I LOOK FRENCH.

No. This isn’t really true. I haven’t spent my whole life trying to look French. I’ve spent maybe the last four years “cultivating an European aesthetic.” And, it’s going magnificently. I have noticed that I need to speak at a lower register. All of my French friends speak at this low, sexy register and this is what I need to do. It would bring me more authority.

Speaking of authority, I’d like to tell you about my new job.

I’ve started working at a non-profit. In my understanding, this means that the business does not make any money and therefore pays its employees in bitcoin and free cookies set out at 9:15 am. By the time I get to the cookie table, they are usually gone.

At my new job, I’ve declared to all other employees that I am a collaborative worker. This means that I can do no project by myself. I must pair up with other employees at all times:

E-mail= collaborative (you read my e-mails out loud and then I tell you what to write in the box. this could take a while, but you don’t have any of your own work, right?)

Phone= collaborative (you call the vendors I need to call on speaker phone and then I’ll tell you what to say and then also leave the room every now and then to let you speak to them nervously by yourself. I have to go out and get those cookies. French Sugah Mama has gotta bring home something, my friend, even if it’s actual sugar.)

Meetings=collaborative (we talk about stuff that’s going in my life. I really want some advice on this new house I’m buying so you and I will discuss the market and also you will explain what exactly is in included in “closing costs” to me)

Lunchtime= collaborative (you eat a bite of my egg salad sandwich that my dad made me and I eat half of your leftover Indian food which is delicious)

Afternoon nap= collaborative (you close the door and then we schedule “meeting” in both our calendars. you try not to snore. I know I snore but I’m going to need you to ignore that)

Walking out to my car= collaborative (you hold the door open for me while I get in. please wait until I have the right post-work pump up song playing).

Okay. End of story. I have to go buy some baguettes to use as hair clips.

 

Want to join my French group?

I am looking for some accountability partners to learn French with.  I am using Memrise and am on French Level 4 (learning past and future tense). If you’d like to join me, please join here: https://www.memrise.com/group/356881/  The name of the group is Ca sera super! It will be great! (the most American French phrase ever).  I’m not really sure what happens once we join, but I think it’s so we can motivate each other to keep learning and to try to one up each other with our French skills. Or maybe it’s just for fun. Let’s hope it’s not for fun, but pure bloody, cut-throat competition.

This grocery bag is from France.

I like to talk to grocery store clerks.

Essentially there are three types of grocery store clerk questions:

  1. did you find everything you were looking for?
    oh my gosh, so much and more. tomatoes plus i fell in love and got married while i was shopping.  this Wegmans is awesome.
  2. how’s your day going?
    oh pretty good__ insert significant yet mild thing about your life like:

    1. i went for a run today and it was really fun.
    2. i’m trying a new quinoa recipe.
    3. i am going to a friend’s bbq tonight, so that should be good. nice weather.
      OR. go a different route and insert a really big brag.

      1. pretty good. just working on my novel. i have my MFA.
      2. great, great. just closing on a house. i have a check for 60k in my purse.
      3. awesome. i will be sailing on my yacht this afternoon.
  3. they compliment you in some way:
    1. I like your bag.
    2. I love your haircut.
    3. I’ve never seen these packaged beets before. they look delicious!
      then you counter with:

      1. oh that bag? i just found it in my house. but it’s from a grocery store in France. yes, France. my husband is French. yes, i do speak some French. yes, I do go every year. (this can go on indefinitely until the person ends up hating everything about France.)
      2. i cut my hair myself ever since my husband and i decided to stop spending money on non-essentials. i also have stopped buying shampoo, eating out at restaurants, buying expensive beer, using my car for anything that i could walk to or use my bike for. we save every ounce of money we can to buy houses. so, thanks! (this response really defies class. they have no idea what kind of demographic you are, you have given so many weird class signifiers. are you scraping buy? you don’t even go to supercuts? or are you living the good life, buying all these houses? you are essentially a total money enigma at this point.)
      3. do you know in french, you can’t say beets? it means something vulgar. look it up. (end of conversation. unless it’s kind of a wacky, strangely sexual person who wants to continue talking and you are just way too creeped out even though you started it by sexualizing your produce, so then you have to say something like “I left my child in the car! i forgot i even had a child!” or “i’ve got to get to the hospital! have a good day!” or the very useful catchall phrase, “shoot, is today Tuesday?” then you just leave. even if it’s not Tuesday.)

        FIN.

To Keep a Long Story Short. . .

I pretty much only hang out with people who use the phrase “to keep a long story short.”

I like people who say this because you know they are editing their stories for you and you know they have some pretty long stories, but they are only telling you the short version. Sometimes the short version is super long. That’s when you know the original was really long.

But, it also makes you question:

  1. If this is the shortened version, why did you still tell me all the names of your neighbors?
  2. If this is the shortened version, why did it involve about six minutes of me just nodding my head and going “okay” or “wow!”
  3. If this is the shortened version, was it essential to tell me where you bought those cooking supplies?

I will never know the long versions of these shortened stories, but I can only imagine what these longer versions include. Perhaps all the stats of the baseball game that you told me about. Perhaps the middle and last names of your neighbors. Perhaps the make and model of all the characters’ cars in the story. Perhaps every single day of your ten day vacation, instead of just days one through six. These stories often include the phrase, “Wait, so what did we do that day? Oh yeah, that was the day I got food poisoning . . . oh here, you’re gonna love this story.” Then the story ends up being about intestinal trouble and you find that you don’t exactly “love” it.

Speaking of vacation stories, I love hanging out with people who show me slideshows of their vacations. I like to know the historical facts about this place. I like to know the names of the people you met. Dave and Linda do seem awesome, but yes, I agree, also sort of bitchy that they didn’t invite you to dinner. Wait, do we hate Dave and Linda? Oh no, we don’t. We’ll just say they are “fine. just fine.”

I like to talk to people who have only stories for conversation. I like it when someone comes up to me at my desk at work and then stands there and tells me about their son who is in college. I like to know exactly where he applied and where he didn’t get in. These kind of stories are important to me. I like to know the name of his girlfriend and how they met and how they have been dating and what you don’t really like about her.

I also like to hear stories that I’ve heard before. I like it when someone says, “Maybe I told you this before” but then they don’t wait to see if they have, they just keep going without guilt because they have put a disclaimer on it. It turns out you have heard this story before so then it’s like a choose your adventure where this time you can say “Gross!” when they tell you what exactly was found in the blocked sewer pipe instead of a simple, “Whoa.”

I like to hang out with people like this because I like to be this kind of conversationalist. When I speak in French, I don’t like to stop speaking because stopping speaking means listening and it’s really hard to understand French when someone else is saying it. Therefore, if I can continually talk, I can continually follow the conversation. I know other people enjoy this too. I can tell because they are checking their phones and not making eye contact.

What else do I like? I like stories that involve cousins. I like stories that involve intricate family relations–like, for instance, if someone takes the time to explain that this person, Theodore is Ronnie’s ex-wife’s son. I like this. I like to get lost in these family trees that have virtually no meaning to me. I also like it when people then tell you that these people have horrible diseases. Then it’s like I just met them and also get to immediately feel horrible and worried.

Some women don’t like it when men man-splain things to them. Not me. I like to listen to men who tell me that I should probably call more than one plumber so that I can get the best quote. It cuts out all the thinking. You just have to listen to this one person and they will tell you what to do. It makes things easy.

I am working on my complaining conversation style a lot right now. I find that people really enjoy being around people who complain, so I’ve been complaining a lot. I like to feel the energy of the room just slowly deflate until everyone feels exhausted and like there is no point to life anymore.

I like conversations where the other person is telling you thinks about yourself, like, “You have a gigantic mouth” or when people hand pick a story for you, like, “Oh! I’ve got a story for you. You’re going to like this one.” Then the story is all about their recent trip to the car mechanic and you are sort of wondering if you talk a lot about cars and maybe have somehow made it seem like you are a car enthusiast, even though you have trouble remembering the year your car was made. It’s possible.

Well, to make a long story short, I’m going to stop there.