Yesterday, the 21st, was the one-year anniversary of the day I shacked up with Paris. That’s right, kids, on September 21st 2004 I got off the big 777, which groaned with relief when my two suitcases full of books and shoes were removed from its belly, and hailed a taxi to the 14th arrondissement of Paris, where I stayed in an apartment on rue Daguerre with Kaitlin and Justin (aka Touché, who used to have a blog but I lost the link).
So it was somewhat fitting that last night I returned to the 14th arrondissement for Paris Blogue-t-il 3, a little shindig organized by Nathan and some other people I don’t know, and attended by a whole bunch of people I’d never met but whose blogs I felt I should have read. Honestly though, there’s nothing more embarrassing than being introduced to someone and not being able to say oh, I love your blog, when you just told the person next to them how much you enjoy their blog. I guess it’s the graduate student in me– I felt unprepared for class not having done the requisite reading. In any case, I’ll be sure to catch up to be in good form for Paris Blogue-t-il 4.
The party made the news, too, which is kind of neat.
Actually, there is something slightly more embarrassing than that: having to tell French people you have a blog called maitresse. Because to them, it apparently has rampant sexual associations that were a very minor part of why I chose the name. There were a number of reasons I chose the name "maitresse", which I used to have written in the upper righthand corner of the blog, but which I removed ’cause it figured it didn’t really matter. But now, after getting the fish eye from teh French bloggers, I think I’ll put my explanation back up there. But for now, just so we’re all on the same page, je suis la maitresse de personne.
(Incidentally, I didn’t realize I was having such a poofy hair night last night. I do look like someone’s mistress!)
Speaking of being a graduate student… it’s well known we’re a masochistic, antisocial breed, but I may have signed up for the most masochistic experience of all: a French national exam. This year, I’ll be preparing to take the agrégation, the concours it is receommended, though not apparently obligatory, to pass in order to teach at the university level in France. I’m doing it in Anglais, with a specialization in literature, but I still have to pass the linguistic and the civilization portions. However, although the subject is english, 75% of the exam will be in French.
Mind you, the statistics for French people passing this exam are not promising, so I don’t know how I, an upstart American, expect to pass. Nevertheless, once I do clear this hurdle, apparently I can expect to find a cushy teaching job where all the non-agrégé teachers will bow to me in reverence when I pass them in the halls.
I had an orientation meeting for it yesterday in which we had to translate an article from French into English. I have to say, I expect to have the advantage here, as long as I know the original French vocabulary. Or so I thought. We got to a line where we had to translate the term gilet pare-balles. "This is a cinch," I thought to myself as I smugly wrote in "bulletproof vest."
Ha. when it came time to correct the exercise, apparently the answer they were looking for was "bulletproof jacket." Because British people apparently call it a bulletproof jacket. A Frenchie in the front row raised his hand to ask if "vest" was appropriate. "No," boomed the British instructor. I raised my hand indignantly. "Excuse me, Monsieur, but in the States it’s called a bulletproof vest. Will we be penalized if we answer in American English?"
The man looked at me, shocked. He had utterly no idea we call them "vests" in the States. He informed me that were such a thing to happen in the exam, the judges will take out a dictionary to double check that I’m not BSing them.
To think I would live to see the day where I wasn’t sure of a word in English. But even as I type this, I question myself. They are called bulletproof vests at home, right fellow Americans? Am I losing my mind?
Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll be blogging about the agrégation for the next 6 months– you’ll be hearing lots more fun stories like this… next up: Maitresse has to read The Scarlet Letter for class, just like when she was a rebellious baby littarateur in 9th grade! And she loathes early American literature as much now as she did back then!