Les premiers trois jours. . .

Bonjour!  Pour mes illustrations de phrase française, je vais essayer écrire dans français.  C’est un petit challenge!  

A voila!  Les premiers trois jours de le projet: #jenaimepasdessiner See this page: Je n’ame pas dessiner

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Aussi: un site pour la grammaire aidé! (tres cool) https://www.scribens.fr/



Mistakes? Puh. No such thing.

Bonjour!  Are you interested in l’art?  Oui?  Allors, you may want to take my course about mistakes and illustration (click bottom photo, svp).  And, if you are curious, I took this cloud photo at the Musée des Confluence á Lyon, France.  Cool, non?   Bonne semaine mes amies!


S.V.P et Merci!

Bonjour toute le monde!

  I see that you are enjoying a pain au chocolat
I’m sure you won’t mind if I just take that last bite . . .ah oui, tres bon!

Allors .  . .I just published a class on Skillshare.
If you’re interested in learning how to craft a postcard to

a logical friend
a revered enemy
a platonic admirer

please feel free to click this word, no not that one, this one!

Merci!  Et bonne journee!

post script: The texture of that image is from a photo of decaying street art that I took in Rome.




I like to attend a lot of meetings.  I don’t get paid for these strategic outings; I just find them by word of mouth and sit through them.

The last one I attended was for a public school where I do not work.  They were trying to decide how to run the k-12 program with a reduced budget.

When I came into the meeting, they said, “You don’t look familiar.  Are you new?” and asked me to introduce myself. I used the classic “vague affirm and specific redirect approach” that I was taught as part of my online graduate work.

“Yes.  I don’t look very familiar and am new to this . . .state. But, I’d like to start with a story, if I may. . .”

This is a classic strategy and very handy when you forget your personal journal and instead want to tell the people at the meeting an annoyance in your life, while also eating as many of their donuts as you possibly can.  The words “if I may” allow you to say basically anything and the hint of a “story” allows for people to think of you as sort of a theatrical podcast.

For instance, I began to tell them about this annoying vet experience I had where I thought the veterinarian’s personality was cold and made me feel awkward about repeating the word “feces” and “rectal area” over and over again.  She didn’t seem like she was familiar with this technical language, so I just kept repeating it, “feces, feces, feces,” but her face was like a stone.  Then she said, “You should bring in a sample.”  How annoying can you get?  I took eight classes on dealing with difficult online patients.  It appeared her “degree” from “a real college” failed to stress the importance of this. When I finished telling this story, the teachers around the table, looked at me, surprisingly annoyed, but I had said “if I may,” so it was totally fine.  Their time to object had long passed and we all knew it.

Also, they should be grateful they got to hear such an interesting story.  It seemed like they had a lot of other things they needed to do and like they were somehow unhappy that they had to get up at 5am and be at the school and then grade at night in their kitchens and then couldn’t properly enjoy their weekends because of some kind of existential dread of Sunday nights.  Personally, I was pretty glad I had spent those eleven years on the online medical veterinary leadership md/phd/mba program at that point.  Some of us contribute to this world and some of us don’t.

Which brings me to the only word you need in a French conversation: exactement.

I learned it over Christmas and it has come in extraordinarily handy.  Like in that meeting, no one said anything positive about my contribution to their daily agenda.  They just looked down to the floor and one teacher seemed to be preoccupied by giving some of his own lunch to a student, so I just waited a few seconds, to make people think I hadn’t been the one telling the interesting story in the form of a soliloquy and I said “Exactement!” and left.  I felt better after complaining to these strangers and there were many job related things I had needed to get done that day and if I didn’t go to bed now I wouldn’t get my normal eleven hours of sleep; the e-mail form letter diploma I received needed to be framed and hung over my online office immediately.


this smells very good. when i wear Coco, I often stop into nearby British phone booths just to smell myself in an enclosed space.



I have reason to believe that I smell incredibly good.

I recently purchased a new perfume: CK1 Red.  I like CK1 because it reminds me of the 90s, when America made sense.  But, anyway, I was standing in line at a luxury discount store and a young, stylish, child in front of me said “Something smells really good.”

Her mother said, “Perhaps the candles–the vanilla?”

And the stylish child said, “No. No.  I don’t think so. Something else.”

Something else. Yes.  Standing there, I knew what that something else was: me.  I thought, what good choice of aromas that stylish child has.

However, I do have some other evidence, which I’m unsure how to classify.

After doing my favorite class at the gym: “Stairs and Chairs,” (which includes: making the chairs into stairs that we run up, jumping from one office chair to the other office chair, and sitting on the chair while a carefully selected partner carries you up the chair stairs), I decided to try the sauna.  I had just showered.  The stair workout is intense and causes my muscles to sweat uncontrollably.

I entered the sauna to see a woman reclined on the bench.  She then said something out loud, which I assumed was a dream.  I began to create an intricate backstory for this woman: stressed out middle-aged woman with sleep disorder finds comfort at local gym sauna.

However, this thought process was interrupted by her saying, “No scent!”

Soon, I realized she was talking about me and the lotion I had used on my face and hands.

I didn’t know what to say.  Like the 18th century French writer, Denis Diderot, I am quite sensitive and often taken aback when someone says something oddly rude to me.

She said, “It is almond, no?”

I said, “Coconut.”

She said, “Ok. If I sit up, it is better.”

I realized my mouth was open without words coming out. I closed it and then remained silent.

I agree with Diderot about his phrase “l’esprit de l’escalier:” a person can only think clearly at the bottom of a staircase.   I knew I had to return to “Stairs and Chairs” immediately.

At the bottom of our chairs staircase, I thought about the incident.  It seems it would indicate that I do not smell as incredible as that stylish child had lead me to believe.

In the end, there are some things you can’t control: like how your perfume will smell in someone else’s nose or the outcome of a recent election.  But, there are some things you can control: like how quickly your hips will move the chairs in tonight’s hula inspired workout where we put the office chairs over our bodies and climb as many stairs as humanely possible, forever climbing our way up.


French Underwear

A long time ago, I was at a party discussing underwear.  There was a hobo trashcan fire burning in the background. I may have had a glass of wine in my hand.  I believe the other person was wearing a t-shirt.  I get nervous at social occasions and often find myself in the middle of strange conversations.  This is not a rare event.  In fact, I’d say this is a typical night for me and often the reason why I stay home and read a French middle grade book that frequently uses the word “Berk!”

Well, this particular evening, I was talking with the friend in the t-shirt.  He is a wiser, older friend who often tells me informative things.  For instance, most recently, he told me to purchase a pipe wrench.  This came in very handy on one particular night.  I don’t like to talk about that night, but let’s just say it came in very handy.

So, at this hobo trashcan party, this gentleman began to speak, parler, au sujet de . . .les underwear!

Oui, c’est vrai.

For a long time, I didn’t think underwear was very important.  During my senior year of college, my friends got me a joke gift of Superman underwear that was meant for a thirteen year old boy.  I have non-ironically been wearing that exact underwear since I was 21 years old.  I am now 33.  Yes, that underwear is 12 years old.  C’est extraordinairre!

This older, wiser friend of mine suggested/scolded/shamed me into perhaps updating my underwear.

Quoi?! Porquoi?  I don’t need beautiful underwear.  I need cool dresses and pleather jackets;  I need that skin toned make up that covers an unusual facial birthmark;  I need a leash to take my adventure cat outside, but underwear–puh.  Terrible superman underwear is fine!

Non.  Cette n’est pas vrai.  You do need beautiful underwear.  It is one step before fluency.

So, coincidentally, my other friend, this gentleman’s lovely wife, opened up (avec sa soeur) this really beautiful lingerie store.  It is called Lace and Day and it is in Buffalo, NY and it is extremely fun to go there (http://www.laceandday.com/).

When I went, I was pretty much astounded.  Quoi le coq?  Pretty underwear?  Who knew?

Because I like to learn, my friend, the co-owner of the shop, began to educate me about French companies that make underwear.  And, soon, I began to be infatuated by these companies.  They made underwear differently than Americans.  Instead of padding in bras and all this covering up so we look like repressed Puritans, they are like, “Puh!  Let ze breast be free to be ze breast!” (I’m not quite fluent in French, but my English as if spoken by a French person is getting extremely good!)

J’adore l’idee!   You’re free to disagree with me, but I feel like one of my heroes, Simone de Beauvoir, would approve.

Anyway, there is this brand from Paris: Simone Pérèle and it is really lovely.   I feel like a nouveau femme!

Cultural understanding happens on many levels: some of them, very intimate levels and others, more external.  I think understanding a part of France is understanding how to be elegant.  And now, I have to go clean the sewer muck off my pipe wrench.




C’est ma vache.

“Dear Coworkers from my first job after college,

I will never forgive you.  That’s right, jerks.  You threw out my special “Chocolat” mug that my mom gave me for Christmas.  That’s right, Christmas!  You threw it out because you had a “kitchen policy” in place where everything that was dirty was thrown into the trash (which would only make sense if the kitchen was run by a dictator).  Only my mug wasn’t dirty.  It was in the dish drying rack as I clearly stated to you while trying to hide my tears.

When you replaced my beautiful French, sentimental chocolate mug with a promotional mug for the non-profit we worked for, I said, thanks.  But, I didn’t mean it.  And, just so you know . . . I’m getting really good at darts!”

Oh sorry.  I thought this was something else.  That was just a side project I’m working on.  I find it scary to end with that dart reference because it’s kind of vague–it makes them imagine terrible things. Like, what is she doing with these darts?  Are our photos on her dart board?  Is she kicking ass at the bar with her dart skills?  What the dart is going on here?

In reality, I just finished my last day of French class this semester.  My French teacher ended with possessive pronouns.  My mind was kind of exhausted from teaching so I said, “C’est ma vache.”  (This is my cow.)  I think this phrase will come in handy during the holidays.

Like, for instance if a group of French revolution types (classic) come up to me and say, “We’re so hungry!  We need beef!”

And then I’ll say, “Desolee, mes amies.  C’est MA vache.” and then I’ll say quietly, “et mon seul ami.” (this is my cow .  . . and my only friend.)

Or, I’ll use it in the negative when I don’t want to get involved in the classic bakery argument scene.

A petite French woman holds the shop’s last baguette: “C’est mon pain!” 

A stout French business man or possibly the town’s mayor yells, “No, madame!  C’est MON pain!”

And, then I’ll be on the side of the bakery and I’ll put on my cool American sunglasses and say with sarcastic overtones, “Pffuf.  Ce n’est pas ma vache!

I’m using it there as kind of a metaphor, as if the argument is a cow.  If anyone questions me, I’ll just start running.  I’ll probably be wearing some Nike Air Max’s for comfort.

Joyeux Noel tout le monde!

Hallo, Ween.

img_0991Oh hi!  I love your costume.  That wig looks so real!  And, your makeup is also spot on 1981.  Is that like a Kiss reference?  Funny. Nice.  I like your ironic Billy Ray Cyrus t-shirt.  That’s a good joke.

Oh.  You’re not in costume.  Ah, yes.  I see that now.  That is just your style.  That is you just being cool.  Totally makes sense now.

And, I am in a very hot penguin costume.  And so I take it this is not a costumed theme blind date?  Hmm.  I think I got Ron’s directions a bit wrong.  Well, I guess I’ll just sit down with you here in this really charming and quaint Pizzeria Uno’s and order a raspberry iced tea.

So, my French is coming along famously.  Yes.  Except for the small problem of not memorizing any of the past participles.  I don’t even entirely know how to speak in the past.  I think I could say “Oui, j’ai mange tout le pizza.  Oui.  C’etait pour tout le monde, mais j’ai tres faim.”  But, that’s pretty much the limit because I don’t know how to conjugate besides first group (-er?) verbs.  I do know how to say things in the near future: like “Allors, je vais boire tout de toi vin, mais je vais boire cette tres doucement allors tu ne sais pas.”

However, I think my French teacher and I really understand each other.  You know, last class, I was the only student to attend so we sat there chatting in French about Costa Rican forests and then in English about love and work and New York City and all these things.  I left class inspired and went to a little pub to eat hot soup and write.  It was rather lovely.  I like when Vincent tells me in English that he is going to drink his soup.  That’s what they say in French: drink soup.  How absurdly bizarre and wonderful their verb to action correlation.

Well, my flippers just got stained by pizza grease and I’m feeling a bit sick from these loaded potato skins, so I think I might just skip home early tonight, if you don’t mind.

Oh and happy Halloween.  Tonight you can be anyone.


C’est mauvais! (not really).

The above image is how I feel today.

You see, Debbie, (that’s what your name is, right? that’s what it says on this sheet in front of me. Oh wait, is your name Deb V.? Oh no, Debbie. Yeah, I was right the first time), you see, Debbie, I took a sick day today.

I hate taking sick days. I like to be active. I teach at a college, so my job is interesting and exciting.   It was different when I used to work in that tuna processing plant, but now that I teach at a college, I have a high level of job satisfaction.

But, today I feel like a run over raccoon.

Yes, it’s true Debbie. I do.

So, in French this phrase is actually not to describe being sick. I tried to learn it by illustrating someone whose arm had been cut off (terrible, rare medical events is a common way I learn new ideas), but really, if this were to happen to you, your arm detaching from your body, don’t use that phrase. Instead, use this phrase if the weather outside is rainy or stormy or snowy–like “I know my arm just fell off, but, man, is it still raining out? What the heck is up with this weather? C’est mauvais.”

Got it?


Also, I’m trying this new thing on Amazon where I select products that relate to my blog. I’d like to introduce you to French weather words. It’s something I might buy and it’s cool.  If you want to check it out.  If you don’t.  Hey, it’s cool.  I didn’t eat tuna every day at the plant when I worked there: only some days.

So, Debbie, you said you were here for an interview? I should tell you that I actually don’t even work here. I was just trying to find the cafe and got a little turned around. Good luck with your job search. I do feel the world needs more transgeneticists, but I’m actually a writing teacher who is on a sick day. Can I ask you what the weather’s like outside? C’est mauvais? Ah, oui.  I’ll wear my raincoat.