amour-propre

Jacques (c) Kristin Espinasse
"Primroses, stuffed cats, and other this's-n-that's." More than a few things are off today, including this photo which I am unable to straighten or edit - given that my computer crashed this morning. More, in today's missive. (Photo of my brother-in-law, Jacques, who has spent the past two weekends with us, helping to fix the upstairs ceilings. Click image to enlarge it.)


amour-propre (ah-more-prohpr)


    : self-esteem, self-love, self-worth; pride

blesser quelqu'un dans son amour-propre = to be a blow to one's ego


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

I am getting a kick out of the French definition for the verb vexer: être offensé dans son amour-propre or "to have one's pride offended". I don't know, French definitions always sound so dramatic to me and this is only one of the reasons I love foreign language.

But vexer, that may explain my response this morning as I stood in the kitchen in my purple pjs tucked into orange ski socks chanting positive affirmations for the beginning of the work week.  (This was after I realized I was incontinent and before I discovered my computer had crashed, and the reason for which I am typing this post on my son's keyboard. I have to crane my neck to look up to the screen, which is placed on a shelf next to a bong. A BONG?!...)

But back to my story, lest I lose the courage to work in these unusual surroundings. Back to hurt or offended pride... yes, I was standing there in the kitchen, tissues stuffed in more places than my pockets, psyching myself up for another Monday, when my son stumbled into the room.

"There is nothing to eat in this house!" Max lamented.

I begged his pardon, for there was always something to eat in this house. When was the last time he skipped a meal? Besides, I said, reaching for the bread bag, there was brioche! (I quickly peered into the bag to verify the brioche was not growing green fuzz on its back. And even if it were (which, ouf!, it wasn't) would I be the first parent in the history of the world to have plucked off a spot or two of green fuzz before thrusting the miserable bread back at her child?).

Pourquoi je ne peux pas manger le petit déjeuner comme tout le monde?" Max complained.

"So you want to follow the sheep?" I countered. "And do like everybody else does? Be numb to your own decision making? Well, a good box of GMO flakes will help you with that! And you can buy it with your own money!"

Meantime, I pointed out, there is brioche or oatmeal or yogurt or oranges or bananas for breakfast. With that, I grabbed my tea and tore out of the kitchen.

To the young man left holding the bag of brioche it must have been quite a sight, that of a pride-hurt mama stomping off in big orange ski socks over sagging purple pjs and a faux fur vest (snapped up from my daughter's giveaway pile—the extra layer almost keeps me warm). 

I am nothing if not a mix—of new and used, thoughts and things, stuffed tissues. I do the best I can. At times I make do. And sometimes, just sometimes, I wish others would too.

French Vocabulary

ouf = phew

Pourquoi je ne peux pas manger le petit déjeuner comme tout le monde? = why can't I eat (a normal) breakfast like everybody else 

              

game of boules (c) Kristin Espinasse
My brother-in-law and Jean-Marc taking a break from repairing the ceilings in the kids' rooms. 

    => How to properly pronounce French words? Read "Exercises in French Phonics"! 

Front porch (c) Kristin Espinasse
"Front porch". The woody branches of the almond tree (left) and the fig tree (right) are coming to life, though you cannot see the little leaf buds from this far.

Re that bong I mentioned (you were wondering, weren't you?). What I saw on Max's desk was not a bong. Find out what it was in the first few paragraphs of this story, click here to read it.

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
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"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


sommeiller

DSC_0005
Mama's Bidou: or "the paunch pillow". "Bidou" is baby talk for "tummy". Don't miss this list of French kiddy terms--including hop-là! ("upsy daisy") here.

sommeiller (so may yay)

    : to snooze, to doze

...not to be confused with un sommelier (a wine steward)

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the French words in the example sentence, just below:
Download MP3 or Wav file

Le matin j'aime bien sommeiller un peu après que l'alarme ait sonnée.
In the morning I like to snooze a little after the alarm has rung.

*please see the comments section (beginning at Hannah's comment) about a grammar rule that has been trespassed in the above sentence... Current French allows one to get away with it... but proper French is rolling over in its grave (where it was momentarily buried) at the sight of the above phrase. 

 

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

"The Snooze Alarm" 

I am tiptoeing through the dark with a steaming hot café au lait. I think I've stepped into a blanket... no, it is un peignoir that's been tossed onto the floor. I kick it aside, relieved not to have stumbled.

I reach across what I know is my husband's côté du lit. I feel the coffee cup being pulled away, thirstily....

I hear slurping. C'est six heures dix! I reply, announcing the hour.

As I head out to my next appointment (just a few sleepy rooms away), I hear, "Could you wake me again at 6:45?"

I make my way down the dark hall, minding the obstacles en chemin. I open my son's door. Same greeting, sans cafe au lait. After a live demonstration of the French verb rouspéter, Max grumbles: "Reviens dans 20 minutes." I consider the request, just as I have the previous one. And then... Attendez un moment! Wait just a minute here!

My pointer finger flies up to my forehead to begin wildly tapping on the thickening skin there. My lips flap furiously:

"Hey-oh! Est-ce que là (tap tap tap on the forehead) c'est marqué 'Snooze Button'?"

And, harrumph... triumph! I continue on down the hall, collecting my coffee en route


Le Coin Commentaires
Help water our growing community with a refreshing comment! Ask a question about France or the French language or answer one! Talk about today's word or story or raconter une histoire of your very own here in the comments box

 

DSC_0003

 Smokey and Mama Braise say, "Qu'est-ce que c'est un 'snooze button'?" Picture taken one year ago. How he's grown!

 Corrections in French and English are welcome and appreciated. Please hit the refresh button (F5 key) first--in case the corrections have already been incorporated)--then add your suggestion here, in the comments box.

French Vocabulary

le bidou = tummy 
*thanks to those who wrote in re "bidou" (suggesting "bidon" to be the correct term). Hmmm. Not sure what to do--as Jean-Marc insists that "bidou" is right. Perhaps it is a southernism? 

le café au lait = coffee with milk

un peignoir = bathrobe

le côté du lit = side of the bed

C'est six heures dix = It's 6:10
*thanks, Newforest, for giving the above term a "go ahead". And thanks, Jacqueline for the proper French version "il est... il est six heures dix" 

en chemin = along the way

rouspéter = to grumble

Hey-oh! Est-ce que là (tap tap tap on the forehead) c'est marqué 'Snooze Button'? = Hey! (tap tap tap...) Does it read "Snooze Button" here? (Or, "Hey! Do I look like a snooze button?")

***

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Near Tulette. A cabanon ultra chouette. Let's play dress up! What would you add to the lonely front porch, to the façade, to the windows and the doors? Would you put anything in the tree? Tell us in the comments box.
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When reading this edition online (here) you will find some handy "share" buttons at the end of this post. Thank you for forwarding today's word, via email, Twitter, or Facebook to a friend.

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Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


la reconnaissance

For this last edition of 2004, a more personal look into la naissance* of this letter from France; a background on how it came about, and its raison d'être* (besides building one's French vocabulary!). Most of the stories in 2004 were in keeping with a French theme. For today's personal story, a Wild West theme seems fitting, considering my Southwestern roots. Though I left the Phoenix desert a third of my life ago, a part of my heart forgot to board that plane to France...

.

la reconnaissance
1. gratitude, gratefulness
.
Il n'y a guère au monde un plus bel excès que celui de la reconnaissance.
In the world, there is hardly a more beautiful excess than that of gratitude. --
Jean de La Bruyère


To you, the reader. (A story about you and me.)

          by Kristin Espinasse

In October of deux mille deux,* I began a website -- a vitrine* of sorts, for my writing. I put up a few published stories, a bio and un livre d'or* and waited beside my virtual mailbox, ginger ale in hand.

A few tumbleweeds blew past but no publishers. My address, my website--my writing--remained in a cyber ghost town.

I continued to peddle my words, sending out queries for my stories. I did not sell many.

I thought to offer something to attract editors and publishers and so I went out front my cyber office and nailed up a sign; it read: "French Word-A-Day." I waited patiently for a customer. More tumbleweeds blew past. No publishers.

I continued to "show up at the page" or keyboard and screen each morning and the stories collected like so many stars over a sleeping desert on a warm summer's night. As for l'espoir,* I had that. Still, no publishers came.

But you did.

You must've seen the sign out front. You signed up for French words and accidentally found yourself in my French life. You must have said, "Pourquoi pas?"* then pulled up a stool, ordered a ginger ale, and settled in.

Your presence reassured, and I wrote. And wrote. And wrote a little more. And mostly hoped you would not leave town when the next stagecoach passed through. At least not until I figured out what it was I had to say.

Then one day you said: "Thank you for your missives," and I ran to my dictionary to look that word up. You also wrote: "Thank you for your vignettes."
"Vignettes! Vignettes!" I said aloud, doing a little square dance. I never knew what to call "it" besides an "essay" (which, I felt, was a spiffier term than "diary entry").

Many good months passed, with small writing victories and a former ghost town now come to life.

My joie* was short-lived. A menace and a few mean-spirited emails arrived. I almost yearned for those tumbleweeds. Instead, I mentioned my soucis* in a letter and suddenly it was Showdown at the French Word-A-Day Corral. You showed up with your posse and told the bandits to get out of town. Then you looked at me and said, "Don't let the !@#& get you down!"

While others don't understand the life of a former Desert Rat-turned-French housewife-turned-maman* and, recently, struggling écrivain--you do.

At a shop in Draguignan, the vendeuse* says:
"Your name sounds familiar, what does your HUSBAND do?" and I fall back into a slump and am reminded that what I really am is a pantoufle-footed* housewife with a back-up of 3 loads of laundry, and a sink full of soiled, mismatched assiettes.*

I return home, to the dirty dishes and laundry, and to a letter from a reader, which says: "Thank you for your new book, when can I get a copy of the first volume?" And I sit up straight, dust off my keyboard and am reminded that what I really am is a working writer with a back-order of books. If I will only continue to travailler:* to show up at the page, and write, each day.

Thank you for helping me to live my dream in 2004. For buying my books, for reading my--missives-- and for your thoughtful words of support. The publishers and agents may not be beating down my door. But each time I crack open la porte* --  there you are.

In 2005, I'd like to continue with the stories, expanding the "gist" of this French Life. I hope you'll stay in town -- because I have figured out that I do, indeed, have something more to say. In fact, there is so much that I have not yet told you.

And while you know of the light-hearted, bubbly side of this expatriation, Real Life continues to rumble within my writing veins. Like a rowdy, drunken saloon girl, wanting to be heard. Only, I will need to slap her cheek, pour a bit of cool water over her head, take a tissue to her running mascara and tell her to have faith. That her story will be told. If she will only show up at the page.

May you, too, live your dream in 2005.

Bien Amicalement,
Kristin

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
la naissance (f) = birth; la raison d'être (f) = reason for being; deux mille deux = two thousand two; la vitrine = showcase; le livre d'or (m) = guestbook; l'espoir (m) = hope; pourquoi pas? = why not?; la joie (f) = joy; un souci (m) = worry; une maman (f) = mom; la vendeuse (f) = saleslady; la pantoufle (f) = (house) slipper; une assiette (f) = plate, dish; travailler = to work; la porte (f) = door

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California