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Entries from October 2013

s'embrouiller

Hearts, lace curtains, pine, Christmas, wreath, salon de Thé, wooden shop front and France (c) Kristin Espinasse, www. french-word-a-day.com
Look for the hearts in today's post, dedicated to someone who easily found them, everywhere she looked. Please read my tribute to Melanie Olsen, in the post réconfort. Click here, if you missed it.

s'embrouiller (sawm-brooey-ay)

    : to get confused, to get into a muddle

I learned, recently, that s'embrouiller has yet another meaning: to enter into a tangle, or an argument, with someone

Mas la Monaque: rent this beautiful French home

Mas la Monaque - Rent this beautifully restored 17-century farmhouse. Click on the picture for photos & info.

 

Audio File/Example sentence (check back this afternoon for the audio)

Maman, je ne veux pas m'embrouiller avec toi. 
Mom, I don't want to fight with you. 

 

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

As I was getting into my car, about to head out to the bus stop in Bandol, my cell phone rang.

"Maman, le bus est en retard," the bus is late, Jackie reported, from the other end of the line.

I could hear a lot of laughing in the background; it seemed the students weren't that upset about the wait. "I'll call you when I'm on the bus," Jackie promised and hung up. She didn't seem upset, so I guessed my daughter was turning the inconvenience into the chance to hang out with her new friends.

Half an hour later, another giggly call from my girl. "Mom, come and get me. The bus never came!" With that, Jackie mumbled a few directions so that I could find her.

I felt guilty for my annoyance, triggered by my teenager's carefree attitude (was the bus late or had she just missed it?), but I quickly let it go. Besides, the day's work was done, and dinner was almost taken care of--a half-hour drive could be a good way to unwind.

I turned off the flame beneath the tomato sauce I was making (Marcella Hazan's, that makes two great losses this week), and got into my car. Driving past Bandol, on my way to Sanary-sur-Mer, I began to notice how beautiful everything was. Summer, it seemed was stretching itself a little farther still. Was this what the French called the arrière-saison

I watched how the late afternoon sun warmed the faces of the pedestrians, who walked arm and arm beside the glorious sea. I began to feel as light as the foam capping the waves that lapped against the endless shoreline. To my left, flowering vines climbed the shop fronts, out of which people spilled, with baguettes for the evening meal. The men wore sandals, and the women, skirts and white capris, affirming that summertime had not disappeared completely.

I should get out more! I thought, my senses now tingling with life. But, almost as soon as the inspiration came, so did a lurking premonition: Things can turn on a dime. In the extreme, hope turns to despair, and--in everyday life, good moods turn swiftly bad. 

"Jackie! Where are you?" Having passed the beach I found myself a kilometer off target.

"Mom, I told you, I'm near the bakery. You can't miss me!"

"But I didn't see the bakery".

"Mom," Jackie laughs, "did you see the roundabout?"

As my daughter is laughing, I'm trying to talk into my cell phone, while cars are whisking by. "Yes I saw the roundabout! And I went straight on, just as you instructed!"

"Mom, I'm two minutes from the roundabout, near the bakery. Keep driving."

And so I did, until I was a village away.... 

"Where did you say you are? Oh, Mom!" Now Jackie's giggles were mixed with a chorus of laughter from the students nearby. Realizing her friends were overhearing my faulty French I began to see the humor in it too. Until the telephone comedy began to feel a little humiliating

Hearing myself struggle in French, I sounded like the title of a David Sedaris novel, Me Talk Pretty

A little angry now, from the giggly reception my words garnered, I switched to my native tongue, only, given my frustration, now my English was as bad as my French! I all but spoke in a pronoun-verb-adverb sequence. Me Talk Pretty! I gargled, but in another arrangement of English words.

Enough was enough! Now I was livid. "Jackie--quit laughing. Concentrate. Give directions!"

Things quickly melted down from there until I was astonished by the woman who was shouting into her cellphone. C'était moi-même.

Finally in the car (Jackie had to walk to another meeting point) my daughter's mood was now no better than mine.

"You need to respect your mom!" I reminded her, but my words were met with defense (but I, Jackie pointed out, needed to learn to understand simple directions!)

A lot of pfffts and growls later and we had brought out the worst in each other, until the anger was so full it burst into to tears.

I had been staring angrily ahead at the horizon, my hands gripping the steering wheel, when I felt a softness on my shoulder. Jackie had laid down her head, beside my grinding jaw.

"Maman," she whispered, "Je ne veux pas qu'on se dispute..." I don't want to argue.

"Oh, me neither!" I assured her, my head falling gently onto hers. 

It was hard steering the car like that, but I doubled my concentration so that I could hang on to this tender embrace for as long as it lasted. Things may turn on a dime, but just as suddenly they can fall softly into place.

 

Hearts and France (c) Kristin Espinasse, www. french-word-a-day.com

To comment on this story, click here. Thank you for reading.

The following collection of heart-themed photos, is in memory of Melanie. The photos were taken here and there--all in France.

Hearts, France, graffiti and cabanon (c) Kristin Espinasse, www. french-word-a-day.com

Hearts,France, window, shutter, pots (c) Kristin Espinasse, www. french-word-a-day.com

Hearts, teddy bear, tea shop, basket and France (c) Kristin Espinasse, www. french-word-a-day.com

Hearts, window, shutters, blue, and France (c) Kristin Espinasse, www. french-word-a-day.com

Hearts, stone, ruins and France (c) Kristin Espinasse, www. french-word-a-day.com

To comment on this edition, click here.

Improve your French. Check out these helpful language-learning tips submitted by our generous community at French Word-A-Day:

When you purchase an item at Amazon.com using any of the links, below, you help to support this free language journal.

French shopping bagI Heart Paris Shopper: made of recycled material. 1-Percent of the sale of this bag will support the conservation work of the nature conservancy. Order the I Heart Paris bag here. 

  Charlie Chaplan, heart, Carmel (c) Laura LeRoy

Reader Mail:


Kristin
 
What a special blog today, so heart felt and wonderful. I am sending you a special heart from Carmel, California attached below. This building (The Cypress Inn owned by Doris Day) was tagged by the London Artist" Mr. Brainwash" during our Carmel Art and Film Festival.
 
So Love sent your way from Carmel California, enjoy and share.

Laura LeRoy

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