⪧ We left our life in New York City to make a new one in Provence ⪦

September 9, 2008

Things that make me smile and laugh

French sayings:

*Reculer pour mieux sauter: to take a step back in order to take a better jump

*Elle n'a pas un radis: (she doesn't have a radish) - she's very poor

*Les hérissons se disent bonjour: (the hedgehogs say hello to each other) - when two men with whiskers give each other kisses when greeting

*Tu m'as posé un lapin la dernière fois: (you dropped me a rabbit the last time) - you stood me up

*Je me suis poilée: (I'm taking my hair out) - I enjoyed myself thoroughly

*La lune prend la forme d'un croissant: (the moon takes the form of a croissant) - a sliver moon

*J'ai une faim de loup: (I have the hunger of a wolf) - I'm starving

...and then sometimes the way the French put things seems really drastic...

For example, on the metro: Les places sont réservées par priorité: aux mutilés de guerre (these seats are reserved for those mutilated in the war).

Thinking about my funny memories teaching Wall Street English:

*A one-on-one lesson with with Bruno (yellowstone, vegetarians, etc). He repeated everything I would say just after me in a soft and panicky way: "Excellent" "Good work" "OK" "Here we go" "That was good" "Let's move on"

*Derek (fellow-teacher) to a student: slow, loud, pointing at his chest: "My name is Derek"

Points to the student deliberately. The student says, slow and deliberately, "My name is Derek."

* The brilliant forms simple sentences could take: "when a fire declares itself" (in case of fire)


*Xavier makes me smile and laugh all the time. I used to get really upset with him and take a lot of his commentary and harsh approach personally. Now I mostly just laugh.

*The way his eyes get wider, he crosses his arms and his foot starts tapping while standing listening to someone who doesn't know when to stop speaking.

*The way when we ride bikes, he wines and tries to convince me that we are not in a rush, and then continually inches ahead, feeling uncomfortable - like at any moment it could suddenly become a race.

*The way he can't help himself from saying what he thinks in some way. While listening to Ani DiFranco (he knows I really like her)...he kind of cringes through the song and then as it is ending with a persistent drum beat proclaims: "That's a lot of tam tam," clearly exasperated by the imposed listening experience.

*And then we were walking home last night and he told me a story. A few years ago he was going to visit his cousin at a friend's place. When he arrived, his cousin wasn't there yet, but the girl who lived at the apartment was. Xavier saw photos of a guy climbing in the mountains all over the apartment. Xavier asked, "Is that your Dad?" The girl started sobbing in response. I asked him how he responded and he said: "I waited until she stopped crying and then I changed the subject."

*All that makes gentle moments much more meaningful. After a long and tension-fraught drive back to Paris (from Baugé, where we had spent the weekend) Sunday evening, which left me gloomy, Xavier delivered. We stopped for gas. He looked at me through the window while he filled the car. He tried a hopeful smile and I responded with a weak one - our eyes locked he knew the reaches of that weak smile. He brought his face up against the glass and exhaled like we used to as kids on the school bus to make newborn feet with the imprint of our hands. No little toes this time. He wrote 'I love you' laboriously with lots of exhales and an upside down 'Y.'


Julie said...


I loved this post. I liked all the idiomatic phrases you pointed out and that radishes and poverty are intricably connected. I liked thinking about Bruno. Mainly I liked the things you wrote about Xavier. Talk about tender. Lovely X.

Faizal@poyan said...


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