Wednesday, May 2, 2012


I feel that my French, which had been bouncing around with no perceptible change in my level of competence, has taken a turn for the better since I got back from Florida. This is due in no small measure to a change in professor upon my return -- Andre, our professor for the past couple of weeks, is truly extraordinary. The previous teacher, Agnes, was also very good, but struggled under the difficulty of having to teach a class of combined B2 and C1 level students. The school made the decision to split off the C1 group and give us to Andre, so things got simultaneously more demanding and more productive. Just last week, for instance, we covered the following terrain (each day devoted to a particular domain and the associated vocabulary):

Monday: la politique (with discussion of the previous day's first round of the presidential elections)
Tuesday: la philosophie
Wednesday: le systeme judiciaire (with a retrial of noted anarchist and member of the Paris commune, Louise Michel)
Thursday: oenology (the how-to of wine-tasting and associated vocabulary)
Friday: improvisation class

Add to that Tuesday's grammar workshop, Thursday's sortie pedagogique, and two private classes with Danielle, and I feel like I made some genuine progress.

As usual, this jump in my perceived level was accompanied by a far more active dreamlife at night, leaving me slightly exhausted by week's end. But in a good way. The dreams in question were highly incoherent, quite implausible, and unlikely to be of interest to anyone but my own good self. So I will spare you the details.

In other news, Brad and Jay are in full swing renovating the master bathroom at home. Interim photos are too horrifying to share -- they assure me that it will all look beautiful again by the time I get back. As with every other home renovation project in history, we have already run into cost overruns. But I think (hope/pray) that the last check has finally been mailed off to SF. Since Brad and Jay are essentially doing all the work out of the goodness of their hearts, I am certainly not complaining.

Here is Louise Michel in 1871:

At our mock trial, I was the counsel for the defence. My task was complicated by the fact that Ai, my classmate who played Louise, quoted directly from her testimony. As Louise wanted nothing more than to become a martyr for the revolution, this made things difficult. Fortunately, because she enjoyed considerable support among the people, as well as from such influential figures as Victor Hugo, the Thiers government who tried her didn't want to create a martyr. So she was exiled to New Caledonia instead. In the "I have a dream" portion of my argument for the defense, I foresaw a France in which every second provincial primary school bore the name of Louise Michel. A vision which has since come to pass.