My Frenchman and I were at an important soiree tonight with all the faculty of Middlebury at the house of the Dean of the university. As we socialized with other professors in “l’ecole francais,” we spoke with one of my teachers and discovered that I’m NOT supposed to be under modified pledge, but rather the FULL pledge. I never actually signed anything, so I have no idea what everyone else signed this week. So, as it turns out, I shouldn’t be writing this or anything else, for that matter, in English.
This week has extremely exhausting. This is the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life. I cry almost every night with exhaustion — not sadness, just this overwhelming feeling that my brain is being scooped from my skull like a jack-o-lantern carver with a handful of pumpkin pulp. It is ridiculously fucking hard.
Can I say that again? THIS IS RIDICULOUSLY FUCKING HARD.
My Frenchman tells me every day how much he appreciates what I’ve done and am doing. I don’t feel the least bit unappreciated, that’s for sure.
(Also, I committed complete fatigue suicide by agreeing to 1) be in the theater production and 2) sing and dance the can-can in the cabaret. Someone please kill me now.)
The results, though, must be worth the effort. As of today, I’m already understanding a great deal more than ever before. I shocked My Frenchman today a few times when he would lean over to quietly translate something someone said in my ear, only for me to hand him the translation before he could speak. I’ve been thinking a lot about La Maupin and all the research I’ll be able to complete in France if this works.
That film, The 13th Warrior, just glows for me in a whole new way. In one of the most creative and accurate depictions of language learning, the main character, an Arab nicknamed Eban, learns the language through listening to the Vikings tell stories around the campfire — over and over and over. Eventually, Eban realizes he understands what they’re saying and shocks them by speaking in their tongue. While the vocal production part is a bit wobbly, the fact that he eventually understood isn’t far from what I’m experiencing. It’s insane how this is true.
Oddly enough, as I go silent, my agent is sending out the proposal (which she called “divine” and “amazing”) to publishers next week. I have lots of reasons to feel positive about what’s coming up. For now, I’m trying to figure out if I can get an alert on my phone when my agent emails me rather than checking email every day (a definite breaking of the pledge). These are very exciting times. A few of the students in my class have learned through the grapevine that I’m a “real” author, and they’re asking all kinds of super sweet questions (in halting French, but I understand them just fine, I think). They’ve heard that something is happening for me and they’re fueling the general excitement. I just don’t want to detract from their experience here by mucking with the immersion process.
So, please, say a prayer, light a candle, chant, waft some incense my way, think nice thoughts at the uncaring universe, or do whatever it is you do. I feel lucky in so many ways, with an enormous amount of love in my life. However, I need mental and physical fortitude to hang in there.
If anything happens, I’ll post here — in French. 😉
A bien tot!