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Doing Nothing, in French

by Zach Roberge, River Editor


Aujourd’hui, je me suis réveillé, me suis levé, m’a assis sur le canapé et j’ai passé une journée tranquille au Mans en train de ne rien faire.

This morning, I climbed down the ladder of my loft bed, opened the window to a beautifully breezy Summer day, sat down on my couch, and pulled out my laptop. While I sat, working on learning state machines in the Game Maker language, people passed by the open window, entrapped in conversations or in daily routines. The sofa was mildly uncomfortable, but the gentle breeze compensated for lumpy pillows. I continued on, ignoring the pillows, ignoring the people and the weather. I turned on some music (I listen to Korean pop music) and enjoyed a blissful day of doing absolutely nothing, in France.

Soon I will be hopping on a train to Paris. I have a trip planned to go to Disney. That day I will get out of bed early, mostly groggy. I’ll stop by Carrefour or a patisserie and grab either bread or a pastry for breakfast. I’ll ride the train for around an hour or two and arrive at the bustling, cultured city of Paris, dazed but excited. Today, I did none of that and though working on my computer isn’t as rewarding as a Disney trip, I do think it was time well spent.

When I listen to native French speakers it’s like I’m playing The Sims. The other day I went and enjoyed appetizers and wine with a friend. We exchanged stories of different cultures, mine from The States, hers from Brazil and France. When she talked about France, telling funny French experiences, she liked to switch to the French language to capture how the people who were in the story talked in the moment.

She told a story of a friend who is a film snob, like me. He was one of those people who can’t stop themselves from harshly critiquing a bad movie, during the movie. He apparently went to see a James Bond movie in the theater, the new one with the expensive cars, loud explosions, and no time taken whatsoever on the script. About ten minutes into the film after a horrid scene, I’m told he promptly stood up, turned to the audience, said something in French, and left. That’s what I understood from the story. I was told after what he said was, “Have some respect for yourself,” and then he stormed out. I completely didn’t understand the quickly spoken French.

I find story very funny, but I confess, it can be exhausting trying to follow another language or to constantly be surrounded by a new culture that is not my own. Though vastly interesting and mind-boggling, it does take a certain amount of effort to take the role of observer. So, soon I will head to Disney and enjoy myself thoroughly and taking in all the international differences, but for today, I am happy and content to sit on this couch, feel the breeze through the window, and ignore the beautiful sights and sounds around me.

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