oh, yes–last week.
I started last week (and ended it) trying out university courses (ie, the ones French students take). Well. I ended up changing all but one art history class. Do you think it was because the prof that I had three classes with: a) had a lisp b) whispered for a total of 5 1/2 hours c) had no microphone in 2 out of 3 classes d) told us his sad, yet somehow funny, medical incident for thirty minutes *each* class, vehemently warning us all about French dentistry? If you guessed all of the above, you’re correct! (Although he was really into his subject).
So, my course schedule now includes: funerary archeology in the Orient, ancient art, and medieval illuminated manuscripts. I know what you’re thinking–cheery, right? Actually, the medieval class is really great because the prof lectures slightly less fast and enunciates better than most. NB: making French friends + speaking French = getting copies of notes easily, especially if you’re American. Have to work on the “getting copies” part because I wasn’t there last week, since I was trying out other courses.
That’s the other thing–classes meet only once a week, and the homework is, if you choose, re-copying your notes. Nothing else. That is why in class people have laptops or an elaborate system of French note-taking, which involves a mad-scientist array of block notes, highlighters, multi-colored pens, rulers, and looking at your laptop-neighbor’s computer screen to make sure you’ve spelled “dithyrambique” correctly. Also, if you’re prof wears a pink polka-dotted button-down shirt, he’s not made fun of and you are not hallucinating. Nor is he being ironic. It’s France, he’s French. Voilà.
Le Parthénon, Paris, France.
In other news, I went to Paris this weekend with some of my host family. I was lucky enough to stay in Père’s aunt’s house in the swanky sixth arrondissement, in a building dating from the 1800s. I was told that the appartement cost at least $7 (add six zeros here). So, we were well-installed for the two day, one-night stay in Paris. Otherwise, we walked through the 4eme, 5eme, 6eme, 18eme (Montmartre), and a few other places. It was also the “weekend du patrimoine”, so places not generally open to the public were open, (like the Senate) and usually free of charge. However, we just walked around and visited whatever we felt like seeing.
Montmartre, 18eme arrondissement.
Père Lachaise, a famous cemetery and popular hangout/picnicking spot, which doesn’t make sense (seriously, who wants to picnic in a cemetery?) unless you’ve visited. Famous people–from Oscar Wilde to Van Morrison–are buried here. My host dad couldn’t have explained it better when he said “It’s not like the cemeteries in America”. You’ve got that right. We passed a funeral-in-progress of someone from Pakistan, complete with multiple flags, no women, security detail and a guy speaking in Farsi(?) from a microphone. Thirty minutes later, we finally found tiny, unimpressive grave of Van Morrison with some other French people who also did not feel that they needed a map at the cemetery entrance two hours earlier. (Men)!
Finally, tonight after dinner, a neighbor came to the door with a surprise from his hunting party: pigeons–or, some sort of bird. Mère and one of her friends, who had come over to chat, de-feathered the birds then and there, broke off the limbs, turned on the gas (stovetop), and burned off the rest of the feathers. This was followed by cleaning out the insides/innards of the birds . . . warning, not for the vegetarians, or the squeamish. Wait ’til market day on Saturday!