I’m going to cheat a bit and write this in English. It’s mostly in the interest of speed; there’s a hockey game on right now that I really want to watch after I get caught up here.
Christmas (Noël) last night was awesome. Incroyable!
My dreams have been completely messed up lately. One night I dreamt I was on a ship like the Titanic, and it was slowly – very slowly – sinking, and my thoughts on the lifeboat boiled down to: “I left my camera in my chambre à coucher, and it’s going to the bottom of the sea.” Last night was bizarre: it was like I was taking English Honours all over again, by resuming courses that I had dropped as a kid. And one of the teachers didn’t like me, and got me angry so that I would bite off a sentence to her in English, and she was like, “HAHAHA!! I have you now! An avertissement for you!” The moment crushed me so much that I actually mentally reset my dream Tivo-style and went back and replayed from an earlier point.
Yes, you’ve probably guessed that I’ve started dreaming in French. It’s not all in French, and some of it is unintelligible, but it’s largely French – with the odd English phrase thrown in when I don’t know how to say something in French. It’s like somehow I’m living in an environment where everything is French, but the mental block that usually prevents me from speaking English doesn’t function. But what’s really funny is that most of my dreams are also in French Immersion - with the fear of avertissements and that whole shebang. If I need to communicate with someone in English, we sneak off someplace and whisper, just like I imagine it would be in real life if that ever happened. =) Well, it hasn’t happened yet with a member of the fairer sex, which is really about the only circumstance where I’d be comfortable with the idea – a few folks have tried to converse in English with me in private, but I just end up responding in French. J’ai rien parler cela je ne peux pas parle en français.
Where was I? Christmas! We exchanged gifts, and Colleen got me a condensed and simplified edition of Le Petit Prince (“The Little Prince”) which I should probably get started reading. (I’m not going to have the time to both read it and blog in French – I’ve been doing more writing than I ever expected, so I guess it’s okay to switch to reading for a bit, but it’ll mean that I’ll be communicating less with the outside Francosphere.)
Also, Jean Douglas (haha, not “De-Glas” or whatever it was I wrote before) gave us all a Christmas gift last night: He declared the first class of the morning cancelled. That means we débutantes started at 10:00, the intermediates at 10:30, and so on. They don’t do it every year after Christmas, though – just for the good immersion groups. Of course, later on he told me it was just for my good work with Le Petit-Bois (“The Little Forest” – a major workshop group here that I was with last week). LOL.
Last night I spoke to a LOT of people, and I felt like I understood just about everything. At times I pretty much forgot I was speaking French, in the same sense that you tend to forget you’re wearing glasses. But I must be careful not to give people an exaggerated idea of my newfound capability. For starters, everyone I know at my level has demonstrated similar ridiculously amazing improvement. Secondly, while I can communicate in French, it doesn’t mean I really “speak it” nor do I have the wherewithal to hold my own in a televised debate or parliamentary question period in the medium. =) But I might be able to understand, say, 10-15% of the spoken content (more if there are lots of big words, as they tend to be the similar in French and English), which is better than the maybe 1% I understood before. If I had the French I have now back on my CWY program, I would have been able to figure out who Cedrick and Dave were joking about, for instance. =)
Oh, and my final thought about Christmas: It was last night for a very deliberate reason. Today was the halfway point of the program. (So now I know for sure that I can survive, and even if I get kicked out, I’ll feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth.) The party was really good for me, it helped me refocus and think about the time ahead with a happier heart. It was a time to turn a new leaf.
Everything around me is changing really quickly. I think this is the normal state of the universe; when you’re a hermit, as I often am, you just don’t notice the changes. I’m mixing scales and perspectives into a stew here, so I have no hope of coming to a coherent argument, but I am in an utterly indescribable state where many things about myself suddenly make sense, and with just a few moments of silent thought I can answer questions that I’ve never before thought to even ask myself. In this sense, Natalie (our teacher) was right in saying on the first day, “Think of this as a spiritual quest.” I think I now understand why some people in certain religious orders take vows of silence. It’s probably really good for the brain, if my experience is any indication.
Well, I’d better shut this down and be social (in French, of course). Thanks for sharing in my indulgence. See you again soon!