Today was so bittersweet... I got up at my normal time, got ready, and packed up my bags, checking and double checking for anything I'd forgotten. I had one last breakfast, and I made it a point to finish the box of gluten-free raspberry shortbread cookies, and the plain ones. I left the caramel biscuits and some other things for Madame to try. I left the house after telling Madame I was planning on being back at about 12:30 for lunch once my classes were done.
We talked about where we had traveled before, and where we'd like to live if we had to live in France, or in other places of the world in our last Oral Expression class today. I said that I really liked Tours, and I figured I'd like to live there, but if I couldn't, I liked the idea of living in Lyon. If I couldn't live in France, I'd like to live in Australia (first place I'd ever traveled) since the people are always so kind and happy, and you can go to the beach on Christmas (and my birthday). Mme. Geai complimented us on our French, said she hoped we'd have fun in Paris, and sent some luck our way for the start of our classes.
Fabian's class was a bunch of fun and games. He gave us a whole bunch of hand outs on how to take notes in French short hand for our lecture classes, then more hand outs on some more common language (think slang terms), then a work sheet on... Text Language?! Sans blague (no joke), we did a worksheet on how to text like a French pre-teen. Dear god. It's easier to decode than you'd think, and I may use it just to be miserly when trying to fit a whole bunch of stuff into ONE message (so I don't have to add more credit to my phone so often), but I'd rather spell everything out, thank you. After that, we had another worksheet on idiomatic expressions where we broke into four teams and had to try to guess the proper meaning of the expressions. If we guessed incorrectly, the next team could guess. My team won the exercise. After the break, we played Brainstorm. The class was split into two teams. Each round is played when a card with a theme is placed in a special truc (thing) that allows the card to be read. Say the card's theme is "red fruits." There will be 10 words that are associated with that theme on the card, and the team can shout out whatever they can think of that might be on that card for about 30 seconds (cherry, raspberry, strawberry, tomato, apple, etcetera). The point is to say as many of the things on the card as possible. My team won that game as well!
I went down to the WiFi zone to update my blog (yesterday's post), then I headed back to Madame's for lunch. We had a tomato salad for entrée, a pork chop and a whole mix of vegetables for plat principal, the usual cheeses, and some strawberries for dessert. Anna had left a little gift for me! She'd given me some Japanese makeup (Shiseido lotion, mascara and eyelash curler), a note, and some contact information). After some café, Madame changed her shoes, and we took my luggage down to the car. When she dropped me off at the bus, we both started choking up. She said that she hoped she'd get to see me again before I went back to America, and I said I'd email her once I was settled in Paris. I hopped on the bus, sat next to Sheila, and completely and utterly failed at holding back my tears. Thankfully, I wasn't sobbing or bawling, I was only "leaking," in my words (meaning I wasn't shaking because I was crying so hard, my eyes were just watering). Mme. Grée was checking who was on the bus while I was "leaking," so she asked what was wrong, and thankfully Sheila explained that I was going to really miss my host mom from Tours since I was so sentimental.
Our bus ride took about four hours since we hit some traffic. There was a little bit of a misunderstanding with Joan. She IS living with us, but only for ten days. Her real host mom has a sister that's very sick, and she needs to be with her for a little while. Sheila and I will be living together for the duration of the semester... or so I thought... Our host mom is young. I don't think she's much older than 60, which is very sad if she's really a widow. Once we got our bags in the car (which there was barely enough room for), I hopped in the front seat, and Madame moved a bag that had some of Carrefour's gluten-free bread off of it and into the seat well. I thanked her for it, and expressed my relief that she already knew about my dietary needs. What came out of Madame's mouth next horrified me. "I understand it, but I don't know a lot about it. I'm not happy that Mme. Parnet placed you with me. I work a lot, and I don't have time to go buy special food for you, nor do I have the extra money to buy it since it's very expensive. This is going to be very difficult since Sheila eats normal food. I asked that Mme. Parnet find a solution, which will most likely be finding a different host family for you to live with." What was I supposed to say to that? Every nightmare I'd had about host families just came true... The fact that she said that right when we got in the car, and it was 7PM on a Friday night only made things worse... traffic was terrible. I was completely and utterly in panic mode for the duration of the car ride (which took about 45 minutes). I let my theatre person side take over, boxed up the fact that I wanted to burst into tears because I didn't want to unpack since she was only going to kick me out in a week for being difficult to feed, and acted like everything was fine (seriously, I left Madame Remion for THIS?!). I figured the only thing I could do at this point was try to worm my way into her heart and make her fall in love with me so that she would want to keep me. I told her that I understood her frustration, and that gluten-free food is expensive in America too. My host mother in Tours bought galettes du riz instead of bread (mainly because she couldn't find the bread), and I had that at meals where most people would have bread. Those are a lot cheaper than gluten-free bread. Since I cook at home, I'd be more than happy to look at her recipes and see if they were okay for me to eat as is, or if a little change needed to be made. I'd even be happy to help her cook. Since she was so busy, I'd be happy to search out a health food store and buy my own gluten-free goodies on my own time. We might even be able to ask Sweet Briar for a little more money since the school is supposed to absorb the cost of feeding someone with special dietary needs... Madame pointed out some other things on the way home.
Once we got to the apartment, she showed us around, and showed us how we can see the very tip top of the Eiffel Tower from a window (pictures will come with tomorrow's post once I unpack and clean the room). I've got two super comfy pillows and a big pillow to use as a body pillow, so I'm happy. My bed in Tours was comfortable, but this might help with my back pain. I got the WiFi to work, so these posts should start happening at the end of the day instead of the morning of the day after. Joan came by with her real host mother (who'd taken her on a tour to show her where her house is, then brought her here to stay), and Madame talked to her for a while and gave her a quick tour. After that, Madame told me that she called Mme. Parnet and said she'd keep me! She was impressed with how much I knew about my condition (...really?) and that I was willing to work with her. My sweet and charming nature was what really won her over!
We had dinner really late (9 PM) since we got back late. I definitely prefer Madame Remion's style of cooking... and eating, but she also has at least 20 years on Madame DeLaPisse, and Madame Remion is retired. We had a chicken with cream sauce and some potatoes for plat principal... before we had salad for entrée even though they were ready at the same time... no cheese... and store bought apple sauce for dessert... The food was good, but not delicious. This is kind of the inverse of my living situation in Tours. The lack of WiFi bothered me, but the food and hospitality made up for it. Here, the somewhat lackluster food and initial hostility bother me, but I'll stay for the WiFi... I shot Madame Remion an email to tell her about how Madame DeLaPisse initially greeted me, and how her food was, and how I wish moving back to Tours was an option since I miss her so much already.
I think we're going to at least locate the two different metro stations near our house tomorrow, if not actually take the metro for the first time tomorrow... how scary! Madame is going to a wedding, and will be leaving around 11 AM, and won't be returning until around 3 PM on Sunday, so being alone for the weekend (with Sheila and Joan, mais oui) should be interesting...
Il n'y a que deux endroits au monde où l'on puisse vivre heureux: chez soi et à Paris.