Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Software meltdown, floundering around in French


I got a nice early start at 8:00 today, had a great big cup of coffee and began to (sigh) deal with some technical difficulties with my video editing software that I believe are somehow caused by my leaving one of my external hard drives at home. No reason to go into the details of all of that nonsense--but this morning through early afternoon was comprised of a lot of swearing and groaning.

At lunchtime I was too stressed out to eat, but I found a package waiting for me outside my cabin door! Some lovely person at Bernheim schlepped it all the way over here. Inside it were 3 delightful things: a mouse for my laptop so I don't have to use that nasty little touch pad anymore, a French grammar book (I recently started learning French in New York), and the autobiography of Julia Child. The French grammar was timely, as I had scheduled a phone call with my faraway physicist friend Maxime for 4:00 PM (vingt-deux heures en France)--and French practice was going to be a key component of this call.

After opening my nice package, I went back to slaving away at my computer problems, but never managed to really solve the problem. One o'clock rolled by... and two o'clock... Two-thirty arrived and I was overwhelmed by a sudden feeling of nervousness about my upcoming phone call! Was I going to remember how to say anything in French? Was my accent going to be so bad that Maxime would be dumbfounded? Would I confuse nice words with not-so-nice words? (I recently had a stressful dream about going birdwatching with some old ladies in France, and I kept called the canards "connards".) Would I be completely unable to understand anything Maxime said in French? (Unfortunately, that last one turned out to be mostly true...)

So I paced around, trying to remember all of my vocabulary and grammar rules and getting myself into a total tizzy. This went on until 4:00 arrived, when I got my phone call (on the NOSE, I might add.) Yes, I had a funny accent, but it was OK. I did not say connard instead of canard. I talked about my little cabin souris named Sami and about men who look like Père Noël, and I asked about some words I have trouble pronouncing, like œil. Then we mostly caught up in English, and that was really, really nice. But listen--this was my first French phone call EVER! If I had a bottle of bourbon here (I know, it is insane that I don't, with Mr. Beam across the street) I would have a celebratory drink.

The lovely phone call cleared my mind of terrible technology failures (thanks, Maxime!)... but I'm going to go to bed early tonight. A demain.

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