Student’s Log: Stardate….something, something 2010

Well, French is every bit as consuming as I expected it would be. And then some.

However, my mole network informs me that my continued absence from the realm has been “tweeted” and then I made it to the finals in the Canadian Weblogs Awards, so I thought I’d better make an effort to try and justify all this attention. I only hope I can remember enough English to string together some coherent sentences.

Seriously. When I’m not being bombarded by French for 8 ½ hours during the day, I’m doing French homework or watching French TV or thinking about French or thinking about running away to France.  

It all occupies an incredible amount of headspace. There really isn’t room for anything else. I go to the grocery store at the end of the week and don’t know what I’m doing there. I stand in the aisle confused, scratching my head reading French labels, desperately trying to remember if “tofu” is masculine or feminine. 

Through some clerical error (or black hole in the stratosphere) I’ve been placed in an accelerated program with people who all know how to talk French already – at least they know a lot more than I do. So, the whole course is operating at warp speed. It’s like being shot in the head for 8 ½ hours every day with a submachine gun[1]. Most of the shots are through-and-throughs, of course, but a few fragments get lodged against some impenetrable spot in my brain.  

There’s a lot of leakage, too. (Leakage of wiki proportions.) I try to stop it, but some days I just get too tired and just sit back wearily, watching it all pool at my feet. 

Then other days, I miraculously seem to be able to speak enough French to hold a simple conversation for a short period of time. Or for no particular reason, I’ll remember an entire conjugation. Unfortunately, it never happens at the same time. It’s a crazy process. 

However, my classmates are a fine bunch and my teachers are very good and patient and I reckon if hundreds and hundreds of public servants can get through this program and pass their exams, then why shouldn’t I be able to as well. Right? 

So, I’d really love to stay and chat, but imparfaits beckon. And you’ll be as shocked to learn, as I was (I’m sure) that imparfaits have nothing whatsoever to do with delicious whipping cream, mascarpone, berries or chocolate!! 

Parfaits Recipe:

Blend into a cream: 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, 3 tablespoons icing confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Scoop into a parfait glass between layers of berries or other fresh fruit. Finish with the cream and sprinkle with shaved dark chocolate. You could also toss in some granola and call it breakfast. Or make the whole thing with yoghurt instead and call it healthy. Or leave the fruit and granola out and just have the cream with layers of dark chocolate and call it Really Parfaits!


 ________________________________________________________________ [1]  I don’t know exactly what that is, but I imagine it’s something that fires a lot of bullets all at once, really fast, without stopping.

31 responses to “Student’s Log: Stardate….something, something 2010

  1. What a lovely homecoming surprise. Glad to see you can manage a three way, between your native German, assimilated English and now governmental French.
    Heck if they could have found someone who spoke all three languages last century they probably could have saved millions of lives by calling off those WW thingies.
    THe Parfait does look to be perfect as well.

  2. Dave – How cool to hear from you live instead of through your emissaries! So glad to see you back and full of piss and vinegar.

    Mike – Yup. My mind is well and truly boggled.

    Dr. Monkey – It wouldn’t be half so bad if it wasn’t all public service-oriented. I’d much rather learn to talk about food and books and current events than governmentese.

    Zoom – I know, eh? Now it’s back to the front lines…

  3. Yes, but have you sat on your bed after class one day and cried and cried and cried from mental exhaustion? Really, you haven’t really DONE an intensive French course unless you’ve done that (this is the voice of Intensive French Immersion Courses Past speaking … ).
    Courage et continue, ma belle! Je suis certaine que tu en sortiras d’une façon merveilleuse – et bilingue aussi!

  4. Yes – you’re back! All is good again. 🙂 Congratulations on the CWA shortlists and good luck with your french studies. May the force be with you.

  5. I saw that you were causing a revolution in Twitterland. You know you’re somebody in the blogosphere when you stir an uprising. We should all burn our bras in protest of your absence.

    Take all the time you need. Some of us hardcore XUP lovers have hung with you through your past blog break. We’ll still be here warming our hands by the bra fire.

  6. XUP, you are a wonder woman. I don’t know how you survive with all that French bombardment but this envious squirrel really, really wants to know how to get nominated for awards when you have left your blog addicts (er…junkies …. I mean, fans) high and dry without a fix for months. Can you sense us high and dry, flopping around like fish out of water?

    Wait a minute. Absence makes the heart fonder! Was that your plan all along? What diabolical evil genius! Congrats on your award nomination.

  7. In my schooling I learned that there are pivotal words you need to know in any language.
    In French – MERDE!
    In Italian – Vafunculo!
    In German – Schiesse!
    But in Hungarian I can’t remember what it is. (I do know that it translates to “If you fuck a goat you get cheese”)
    A la prochaine.

  8. Oh how I miss you. I’m even feeling guilty that French is my mother tongue and in a sense I – and all my ancestors – are responsible for you having to learn it now. Yeah, doesn’t take much for me to go guilt tripping.

    Je suis certaine que tu vas t’en sortir. L’an prochain je te montrerai à parler de choses intéressantes.

  9. I was very excited when I saw your new post! Glad you are hanging in there (I’m betting you are doing really well). Keep up the good work! You can do it! Yahooo!! And then hurry up and get back her because I miss your posts.

  10. Pinklea – Does the school washroom count as a meltdown place? Oh ya!

    Laura – Merci! Et tu!

    Finola – I wish I could stop by more often. Things pop into my head that I think would make a good blog post, but then I don’t have the time to actually think about it, never mind writing it. Alas, my brain only has so much capacity. If they’re stuffing things in on one end, something else has to fall out the other. It’s the law of gravity or something.

    Dee – Aw, you’re so sweet. But I think you’re just looking for an excuse to run around without underwear. I don’t blame you one bit. I’ll send you mine to burn as well.

    LGS – Well, first you have to be a Canadian blogger. Then you have to have wonderful readers who nominate you in one or more categories for the award. Then it’s up to the discerning jury to follow your blog for a year and make a decision. Also, I didn’t realize squirrels were aquatic animals. I would have thought rodents had evolved enough to be able to breath on land????

    Grouchy – Damn! You mean I’ve inadvertently unlegended myself without even realizing I had been legended?

    Lebowski – Hmmm…thanks for the tip, but I don’t think I’ll pass the public service language exam with that.

    Jazz – Oh, don’t feel guilty. In theory, I actually enjoy learning all this. I just wish it wasn’t so damn fast. It would be nice if I had a day off every week to go over things and absorb them. We do get an hour every day for this, but it’s just not enough. Probably next time I see you, we’ll be able to have a rudimentary conversation in French. That would be cool, eh?

    Sean – It can’t be as difficult as Korean. Did you learn that through immersion or did you go to classes, too?

    Anonymous – Thanks. I miss your anonymity, too.

  11. Oh XUP, how I have missed you!! I must admit that it was I would started a recent tweet thread with “I miss XUP, don’t you?” — TONS of people responded! We adore you. We will even read blog posts in French if we must!

  12. Hey, XUP.
    Congrats on making it to the “Meilleurs textes” category of the Canadian Weblogs Awards. I was wondering about you reading the french part of grocery labels when I commented on your last post. So, is tofu masculine or feminine? 🙂 Good luck with the rest of your immersion.

    I’m liking the sound of that parfait recipe. I made a pizza from scratch on Saturday. Now, I’m considering making the parfait on Sunday.

  13. So good to hear from you! Can’t wait for your full time return. Good luck with the Weblog awards, I was so happy to see you nominated. You deserve it!

  14. Since you had to take a foreign language in college, and I had not in high school, they enrolled me in an advanced ‘time-warp’ Spanish. Yeah, right! That worked well. Sure! Then, I tried two other times in normal speed classes. At one point the teacher told me not to be discourage because I was saying it right and my reponse was, “But, I have no idea what I’m saying.”

  15. Ohhhh wow, you’re bringing back my summer of intense-take-four-semesters-of-French-in-one-summer-or-fail-out-of-college in a badddd way. I hope you don’t have to read and discuss Le Rhinoceros, hahaha.

  16. Good to see how you’ve been doing XUP and I LOL’d at the “It’s like being shot in the head for 8 ½ hours every day with a submachine gun” bit..

    Awhile ago, I enrolled in intermediate/advanced part-time French classes and it gives me a real headache somedays! (So I can imagine how hard it must be to do it full-time) When I’ve talked to some of my French coworkers about the grammar, they admit that some of it is unnecessarily complicated and not always straightforward. But what can you do? I suppose every language has its “challenges.”

    One thing that I’ve found helpful is to speak in French outside of work also. Since English is so common it can be tough to find someone willing to practice with you, but that really is the only way to become bilingual, is through upkeep. (Plus, no more “govermentese” when you’re being social!)

  17. XUP! You’re back! Or back-ish. Congrats on your nominations for the awards. I am impressed. I chickened out and did not go for French testing in October, but will take yet another French class in January and go for the oral exam in Feb. Sigh.

    And ditto what Loth said. Although the French training must be sinking in, because I was getting quite pissed off with Word Twist when it wouldn’t recognize perfectly good words like cuir and lait.

  18. Forget about being a bureaucrat, you should write wait, about learning french because you’re a public servant….That was a hilarious post I just read! Welcome back, if only for one post..Congratulations on the CWA!

  19. Julie – Aw shucks Julie. I hope I can get back to it once I’m done this insane French thing.

    Davina – Let me know how you like the parfait. I think tofu must be masculine…just judging by what I know about French noun genders

    Lynn -Thanks baby. Is there going to be a winter version of the BOLO??

    Loth – Ya, I noticed. I still manage to get a quick game in now and then with Laura…my only Wordtwist friend…

    Savanvleck – No, I didn’t have to take a language in high school. They have to do one french course, but that’s it.

    Meanie – Me too…we could still have BWB some time???

    Aliastaken – No. We didn’t have to do that. Lots of other dumb stuff, but not that.

    Pauline – That’s an absolute must, of course, but frankly, by the end of the week, I don’t want to hear another word of French. It IS getting a tad easier, I think…at the moment..though…I don’t know really…my head is spinning.

    Alison – ha ha. We should get together and practice some time???

    Dave – Thanks Dave…good to know I can still write enough English to provoke a chuckle.

  20. XUP! I’m a little late responding, I know (it’s been a crazy month and I didn’t even see you’d posted till now), but rest assured you are indeed missed. Best of luck with the rest of your french course. Looking forward to reading more from you when it’s all done.

  21. I’m glad to see you blogging. It sounds like your French course is great. I need to do one again. I hope you have a Merry Christmas and that 2011 is a wonderful one.