Tuesday, February 1, 2011
ma madeliene à moi
yesterday, i learned the origin of a cultural allusion i’d heard been hearing for a while. have you ever heard someone say that something is their “madeleine”? maybe not, if you’re not into french culture and whatnot. but here’s the jist; whenever writer marcel proust ate the french pastry called a ‘madeleine’ as an adult, he was momentarily transported back to his youth, to a time of childlike trust and naive innocence, when all that mattered was the deliciousness of the treat. whenever something is ‘your madeleine,’ it does the same thing. it could be a certain type of food, a smell, an article of clothing, a song.. whatever brings you back to that time in your life. over the last few days, i’ve had a couple pseudo-madeleine moments. not so much ones that take me back all the way to childhood.. just moments that, if i close my eyes, i could be at home. or at school. let me explain..
friday night (as i said in the last france-related post) was a going away party for a friend of mine here at the university. stephen had studied here the previous semester, but is going to spain for this one! he decided to stick around angers for january because spring semester for him doesn’t start unti later this month. the little soirée was at his apartment over on the opposite side of town from my campus. as we were getting ready, it started snowing!! giant, fluffy, wonderful snowflakes. it only lasted for about 30 minutes, but the sight of the snow swirling around in the air was beautiful. i quoted elf – “have you seen these snowflakes, they’re GINORMOUS!” no reaction. a bunch of my friends hadn’t seen elf!! i was baffled. we planned an elf date for the following evening. anyway, several of my good friends here at school were friends with stephen last year, so i knew the majority of the attendees. we had a grand time chatting with stephen’s french flatmates and goofing off. at one point, a few of us (keith, john, shane, andrea, and myself) got into a peanut-catching competition. my record was ten successive peanuts tossed and caught in my mouth. the game evolved into partner peanut tossing, and then target tossing. keith finally launched a peanut directly down my throat, which was startling but very hilarious. we called a cab to go home, because the buses had LONG since stopped running. jessie summoned a 7 passenger van to come pick us up, and i got stuck riding shotgun with the driver. which was actually great, because we had a lovely conversation about how there are still so many societal problems in the southern united states. yeah buddy, in french. haha! the six goofballs in the back sang ‘bohemian rhapsody’ all the way back. once we returned, i stayed up talking until the wee hours of the early morning (just like the previous night, all of the sudden it was 7am). there is nothing quite like a heart to heart in the middle of the night – i absolutely cherish conversations like that one.
saturday morning, i woke up around 1pm and got a lot more done. i cleaned and did more homework and did stuff on my computer until dinnertime. it was a typical dinner – pasta with a rosé tomato sauce and a veggie side. as we had decided the previous night, it was time for ELF. we put on shane’s fake fireplace that he downloaded and ate cookies for a while, and then turned on the movie. it was like christmas all over again! that was definitely a madeliene moment for me.. elf is such a classic, and we watch it every christmas at my house! i loved sharing that joy with my new friendsies. :) after the movie, i got to bed pretty early so that i could get my sleep schedule straight.
sunday was pretty grand. i slept in to get my sleep count back up, and then got ready for the day. around 3pm, a group of us decided to go on a little outing to the city centre for a walk in the park. it was awesome, but it would have probably been more enjoyable if it hadn’t been absolutely freezing. and it’s a humid cold, so it feels even worse! yuch. we walked around the jardin des plantes, which has an awesome little bird sanctuary! there were some gorgeous exoticly-coloured birds there, it was such a pleasant surprise! we walked a bit further into town and found this sweet playground near the bus depot on the main drag in town. shane, john, keith, patty and i played on it for a while – there were some seriously cool playground things there. they were so fun!! except they seemed pretty dangerous for a small child! i kept thinking how, if i were at home, these kinds of things would NEVER be at a playground. too much liability. it’s a shame that children are denied such fun just for the sake of someone avoiding a lawsuit. oh well. we continued our afternoon walk around town, stopping for hot drinks in a bar before heading back to campus. we all cooked together again and sat around talking for a while. it was lovely, as usual!
monday morning was an early one, since i have an art history class at 9am. i had hoped to take the 10:30 section, but last week, the professor was mad because the 9am section had 4 people and the 10:30 section had about 25. so he pretty much insisted that some people switch. i figured i could drag myself out of bed for a 9am once a week, so i obliged. hopefully that put me on his good side! he is such a sweet little man though. yesterday he wore a magenta-ish collared shirt with a black v-neck sweatervest and a black bowtie. and over it, he wore his long black coat with a matching magenta scarf!! and he has this awesome silver hair (and moustache) with these round glasses.. he’s fantastic. we talked about raphael again for a while and then moved into mannerism. after that class, i came back to the dorm for a bit before heading into town to run some errands with shane. except that was a total fail, because nearly everything was closed! silly five day french work week, with shops closing for sunday and monday. oh well, i still got a delicious baguette at monoprix, half of which i had eaten by the time we got back. i had a little snack (aka the rest of the baguette) and then headed to my 3 hour french grammar course. it’s part of the program for foreign exchange students, so there were no french students in my class. but there were several italians, germans, japanese, and british! in addition to a polish girl and a romanian girl. so it was a good mix. and oh my gosh, the professor is phenomenal. i seriously pray that i look like her when i am her age. which could be anywhere from 40 to 60, i honestly could not tell. she has this beauuuuutiful silvery hair, and her skin is perfect. she’s tall and thin and stylish and SO FREAKING FRENCH. gosh, she’s awesome. her voice is so kind and soothing and she was just so sweet and funny.. man. that class is going to be great. the three hours passed really quickly, which was an added bonus!
i had a break after that class until 6pm, so i decided to venture to the magical land of lidl with jessie and keith. lidl is a cheap grocery shop, related to aldi. it is only 3 bus stops away from us, but it still doesn’t beat the convenience of superU. it was indeed super cheap though! i got loads of stuff to stock up my pantry for just 7 euro. win. and i saw some great products, including a cereal brand that had choices including “nut flakers” and “honey balls” – i’m mature, i promise. we headed back and i made my way to the final course of the day – a conversation workshop. it was awesome – out of the 20 people there, only 3 were american. the others were irish, canadien, spanish, italian, polish, and romanian. it was EXTRA awesome because like half my friends are in that class, so i was already super comfortable about speaking. the “teachers” were two upperclassmen (native french speakers) who are studying to teach french as a foreign language. we sat around this big table and talked about random stuff for an hour and a half – including introductions, comics, music, etc. it was pretty fun.
same story after class for dinner – we gathered in the kitchen and got to cooking. natalie made this delish bolognaise sauce with tomato sauce, onions, spinach, and tuna while i provided the pasta and made some potatoes as a side. yummy, as usual!! :) the second madeliene moment came after dinner, when we were SUPPOSED to watch a movie (but everyone bailed). instead, i sat in shane’s room with my eyes closed and listened to him play guitar. it was almost like being back at belmont.. which was bittersweet. but still, listening to fantastic guitar playing is always fun! and then a little bit later, i got to have a skype date with my boooo back stateside. i always love that. :)
anyway, today is my weekend-in-the-middle-of-the-week day, because i have no classes on tuesdays. (win.) so i just wrote all morning, and doing a couple things on my massive to-do list. i also watched the footage from TWOG's show last sunday about a zillion times. around 4pm, i went back into town to retry those errands from the other day. shane ended up finding the book he needs, but its 20 euro!! excessive. we stopped by the library to look for it, but no luck. i did finally get my library card though! :) we stopped by monoprix, where we bumped into andrea. the three of us got our shopping done (which included shane dropping a bag of frozen peas, which split and sent peas flying everywhere) and headed back to school. on the bus, i ate about a quarter of my DELICIOUS baguette. seriously, heavenly. it was even still warm.... oh lord. it was wonderful. we're about to cook up some curry for dinner and then watch despicable me. life is good!