Do you ever have one of those weeks/month/years where everything hurts your feelings or makes you sad?

I don't, I was just checking to see if you're a total pussy.  No, actually, I'm having one of those weeks right now.

I've been thinking about Dad, thinking about a friend I feel disconnected from, and thinking now, especially about Paris.

I started learning French at the age of 11.  In sixth grade, you did six weeks each of Spanish and French, then at the end of the year, you were allowed to select your language, contingent on the teacher's recommendation.  I was recommended for both, but because Dad studied it and my sister was taking it, I settled on French.

That was one major point in my French education.  The next year, I remember we were in class and the teacher took down the conjugation charts for Avoir and Etre that she kept at the front of the room.  People bitched and moaned and I spoke up saying that of COURSE we needed to memorize them - they were the foundation of the language.  And I'm sure the teacher loved that.  My classmates hated me for it.

Several years later, in high school, I was about to drop French to continue taking Chorus, and I was regretting it, and my French teacher knew it, and she interceded and got my schedule fixed.

My senior year of high school, I was at a competition for this geeky club I was in, and my friends and I ran into this guy that worked at the college we were visiting.  He was West African, and his English wasn't great. So I asked if he spoke French.  He did.  So I explained as best I could in French who we were and why we were there.  When we got back to school, my friends, who were in the same class as me, went to our teacher and told her I COULD SPEAK FRENCH. I mean, we had been studying it for what, seven years at that point?

I arrived at UGA for Orientation, and they gave me a test to see what French I would place into.  I made that test my bitch.  I remember there was a passage (in French) about a shepherd who left his lunch in a cave for a week, came back and discovered he had invented roquefort cheese.

When I met with my new advisor, she informed me that I had tested out of all but a single term of French.  So I enrolled in FRE 201 at 7:50 AM, where I met Ben.  He was a TA and he taught the class, and I adored him.  He was funny as living hell, and cute and I just enjoyed it.  At the end of the term, we all had to meet with him in his office and give a 5 minute presentation on a topic of our choosing.  I decided on explaining how e-mail would take over handwritten letters (this was 1993).  After I was done, he looked at his grade book and told me I was making a 96 in the class.  He said, "This has been easy for you, hasn't it?"  I told him it had, and he asked me if I'd picked a major.  I told him I was working on getting into J School and he suggested I get a minor in French while I finished my core classes and waited to get into J School (you didn't apply til the end of Sophomore year).

And so, by the end of my Sophomore year I had a minor in French, a pin and certificate from Pi Delta Phi French Honor Society. And an admission letter from the College of Journalism.

I am very proud of my French studies.  I've been to Paris three times (once in my early teens, twice in my 20s).  And the acts of terror there make me very, very sad.

I don't have any answers.

Just stories of why I care.



Email take over handwritten letters? Sacre bleu!