Thursday, June 2, 2011

Brief Update

Today is a public holiday here in France (the feast of the Ascension), so we have the day off school. It was nice to be able to sleep in, but since it's a glorious day outside, I will shortly be headed out in search of a little fresh air. Later on, I will have homework to do, and a video to watch (Jacque Tati's "Mon Oncle", borrowed from the collection at school), but it's time to get out of the apartment for a while, once this post is finished.

Last night I went with Ellen, a former Genentech colleague, to a concert in the small amphitheater at the Opera Bastille:

The entire program was devoted to piano pieces by Schubert, two sonatas (both in A major, one early, one late) and the Wanderer Fantasy. The pianist was terrific. The whole concert was great, particularly because I had worked on one of the sonatas while taking lessons in graduate school. As an encore, she played an Impromptu that I have also worked on sporadically, so I was a very happy camper indeed. But then, one would have to be a robot not to be moved by Schubert's piano music.

School continues to be both fun and rewarding. We changed teachers on Monday, and the new teacher, Manuel, is excellent. Lots of writing assignments this week, so I've been spending my evenings with the dictionary, trying to master the art of writing "a la francaise". The main trick seems to be arranging everything into little argument triads. The major difficulty is to find appropriate connecting phrases so that one ends up with a style that is fluid, not choppy. This problem of achieving syntactical fluidity is one of the hardest things in every language I've studied to date, and I will return to it in a future post.

Speaking of returns, I have been giving some serious thought to the question of what to do next, and a tentative plan is taking shape. I've enjoyed my time in Paris so much that I'm thinking seriously of coming back in the fall for another stint. Possibly for about 10 weeks, roughly from early September to mid-November. I've talked to the school director about it and have contacted the owner of this apartment, to see if it might be available again in that timeframe. I'm hoping to reach a decision on this before I return to the U.S.

But now it's time to go outside and enjoy the sunshine on this fine Ascension Thursday. The Botanical Gardens? The Jardin du Luxembourg? I suspect there are no bad decisions among the options.

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