Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What the DELF?

The DELF (Diplôme d'études en langue française) is a series of 4 independent certifications (A1, A2, B1, B2) designed for non-native speakers to demonstrate their level of knowledge in the French language. Each exam consists of suprisingly well designed sections on reading, writing, listening and speaking.

Here I paraphrase what each level means so you get an idea of what is being measured:

A1: One step above an Englishman. Able to recognize the language is French and fill in a simple questionnaire.

A2: Ability to order a carafe of house wine and dinner in a menu without pictures. Also able to unintentionally offend your French acquaintances who have invited you to a party.

B1: Able to write a beautiful apology letter to your French acquaintances for offending them when they invited you to their party and you drank too much wine, which led to mistaking the dog for the lady of the house.

B2: Able to successfully start a bar fight by expressing an eloquent opinion about the World Cup. Able to the explain the situation to the police prior to discharge from the hospital.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

An Open Letter to Christian Audigier

Dear Christian Audigier,
Please, stop making these heinous t-shirts. I realize that the cast of the Jersey Shore and Jon Gosselin are huge fans, but faux-celebrity endorsements don’t justify the creation of atrocious pieces of clothing. Using the same designs over and over again only works for fashion houses who employ simple and elegant designs. Not this crap.
And why, oh why, are all of your diaper bags adorned with the phrase "Love Kills Slowly?"For the love of all things sacred, no ONE wants to carry around their sweet babe while toting a diaper bag that says ‘LOVE KILLS SLOWLY. Not cool, Christian, not cool.

Monday, September 19, 2011

DSK has his say

The French are known for their FARCES and last night's interview with Dominique Strauss-Kahn certainly ranks up there as one of the most imaginative I've ever seen. His answers were obviously very well rehearsed (probably because the interviewer is a friend of his wife's which means he most likely had the questions in advance). He threw in lots of thoughtful pauses for reflection. And even though he seemed nervous at times (sweating like a hooker in church), he didn't seem 'contrite' or 'humbled' as Le Monde reported. He appeared defiant and arrogant. He even went so far as to suggest that the whole incident was some sort of plot by the Sofitel to 'trap' him. Although, the most heinous part of this whole incident is the picture included in this post. It's of DSK and his wife, Anne Sinclair, leaving the Manhattan court after all the charges were dropped against him. Note the GIANT, BROAD smiles on both of their faces. Now, I know why he's happy (he just avoided becoming some dude's French girlfriend at Rikers Island), but WHY oh WHY is the WIFE smiling? Oh, that's right, she just found out that instead of admitting to forcible RAPE he husband has instead admitted to CHEATING on her. With a hotel maid. And apparently, THAT is cause for celebration.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Merci, Jean-Louis B!

Thank God for Jean-Louis B is all I can say. Next time I’m at a party and I hear Frenchies complaining about how ridiculously litigious the United States is, I can cite this case: A 47 year old woman from Nice sued her husband for divorce (on the grounds that he failed to perform his ‘husbandly’ duties in the boudoir for several years) and WON! Not only that, she was awarded ten thousand Euros in punitive damages! However, more shocking that this judgement, was my discovery that a law referring to the ‘devoir conjugal’ (literally conjugal duties) of husbands and wives actually existed in France until its abolition in 1990. That’s right, there was actually a law on the books that specifically said that once married, you were required to have sex with your spouse. Although, no time frame or frequency of occurance was specified. I guess they left that up to each individual couple. How nice of them. In addition, you might be interested to know that there is currently an article of the French Civil Code (#212) that stipulates a spouse must 'respect and remain faithful' to their significant other during their marriage. Now, that one really makes me laugh.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My September 11th Story

On the morning of September 11th, 2001 I was working as a French teacher at a Washington, DC area private school. I was in my office prepping for my first class when a wave of nausea hit me. I ran across the hall to the bathroom just in time to vomit up my entire breakfast. I was six weeks pregnant and the ‘morning sickness’ that I had heard about but had yet to experience had finally arrived. Ugh! I thought to myself as I rinsed my mouth with water from the hallway fountain, this is going to be a long day. I looked at my watch, it was 8:51. When I returned to my office, a colleague of mine said, very matter of factly; “a plane just hit the World Trade Center in New York city.” When I heard this, to be honest, my first reaction was not panic. I assumed that the plane was a small Cessna, flown by some moron who thought he was a pilot after taking ten flying lessons. It was a mistake. It had to be. There is no way an experienced pilot would ever make such a horrible miscalculation and fly into a huge skyscraper. It wasn’t until twelve minutes later, when the second plane hit, that I realized the crashes were intentional. Over the next forty minutes, I wandered in and out of the school library, watching the events unfold and questioning just what the hell was going on. Then, at 9:40 am, the events of September 11th reached out and grabbed hold of my heart, wrenched it, and nearly stopped it. The local news interrupted the broadcast to show a photo of the Pentagon in flames. They reported a plane had just crashed into it. I gasped. My husband, a Captain in the Airforce, had a meeting that very morning at the Pentagon. “Just wanna let you know,” he whispered in my ear, early that morning. “I won’t be in the office this morning. I have a meeting at the Pentagon.” I ran out of the library and back to my office where I picked up the phone and frantically dialed his number. I got a reorder signal. I tried his cell phone. No network. I felt woozy and grabbed hold of my desk for support. The next two hours were an unbelievable roller coaster ride of emotions which I hope to never experience again. There were unconfirmed reports of a bomb going off at the State Department and a second plane crashing into the Pentagon. I had no phone service but my email was working and I frantically responded to panicked inquiries by family and friends the world over asking if my husband was alright. I responded to all of them the same way. I don’t know. I just don’t know. Finally, the call came that I had been waiting for: my husband telling me he was okay. “It’s going to take me awhile to get home,” he informed me. “They have shut down the metro, so I’m gonna have to walk.” I waited anxiously on the steps of our townhome and was ecstatic to see his tall, lanky frame come into view as he walked across the street. As he approached me on the stairs, he dropped to his knees, lifted up my blouse and planted a kiss on my belly. “I’m glad you two are okay,” he said. “I love you,” I said. “I know,” he responded, Han Solo style. Always a joker, that man.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Piss Poor Behavior

So, you may have seen the story about French actor Gérard Depardieu's recent problem on a CityJet flight from Paris to Dublin. According to CityJet, the actor's plane was delayed just before takeoff and he was told he could not use the lavatory until they had reached crusing altitude. Depardieu then insisted he needed to piss immediately, but the flight crew refused to let him leave his seat. At this point he was passed an empty Evian bottle by his friend, fellow French actor Edouard Baer-(Hey, what are friends for?) which Gérard attempted to use--and this is my favorite part: 'as discreetly as possible.' {Cause nothing says discreet like whipping out your Johnson in public and trying to urinate into a plastic bottle!} Unfortunately, the bottle Edouard gave him was one of those little ones and Gérard's uhh....jet stream....overflowed onto the carpet. Mr. Baer insists his friend was 'stone cold sober' at the time and even offered to clean up the mess. I for one absolutely believe he was sober at the time. Gérard Depardieu is such a pompous ass that there's no need for him to be wasted to pull something like this. Seriously, those passengers should consider themselves lucky he didn't need to go #2.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

ATM Tips for Tourists

WARNING: ATMs in Paris do not operate the same as they do in the US.

Point #1: ATMs in Paris have a time limit (yes, you read that correctly a TIME LIMIT) associated with each transaction. So, if you need to pause for a few moments while you rack your brain trying to remember your pin, you are most likely going to run out of time at which point the machine will SUCK YOUR CARD BACK IN! In order to get it back, you need to go into the bank and present a picture ID. Pain in the ass? You bet! But imagine this. Imagine the bank is closed when this happens. Now you are without your card until the bank reopens (which could be anywhere from a couple of hours to couple of days, if you are in town during one of the many French holidays). Point #2 Paris ATMs are silent. They do NOT make that annoying beeping noise to remind you to take your card after you’re done, so your card just sticks out of the machine, waiting for a total stranger to yank it out and go on a shopping spree at Louis Vuitton. Before you stick your card in any ATM follow these three steps 1) make sure the bank is open and will continue to be open for the next hour at least. Parisians relish their TWO hour lunch and consider that time sacred. So, if you are going to make the bank manager late for his déjeuner to get you your card back, the staff will tell you to come back at three o'clock. 2) Familiarize yourself with the keys before you begin. Know exactly where the withdrawal key is in relation to the number pad. Also, try depressing all the keys. Do they all seem to work? If not, do NOT use that machine. My card was sucked into a London ATM because the #3 button did not work. Which reminds me of the most important point of all: DO NOT make a mistake when entering your PIN! The machine will automatically assume you are NOT the owner of the card and SUCK IT IN! You get only one SHOT at it, so don’t screw it up!