19 November 2007

Peculiars 'n Finishes

- Friday we had a "practice exam" for translation (French to English). It was interesting for a number of reasons. Essentially, they organize these practice exams so that students can have a chance to see how well they perform in real examination conditions, with the same time constraint and materials they're allowed in the real exam. It's useful, because this way you get a chance to see how badly you'll fail before you actually do so. In most cases, the final exam is the only grade you receive in the course, so I'm looking forward to (dreading?) seeing how I did. This is the class I think I have the best chance of actually doing well in.

- We started working on Christmas music Friday for the Maîtrise. I actually know about half of it already (O Magnum Mysterium by de Victoria, which I know the top three parts of, O Come O Come Emmanuel in Latin arranged by a Hungarian, Lo! How a Rose E'er Blooming in German, Noël Nouvelet in the original French, and others). Fun stuff.

- Saturday I went shopping, since I had two things to look for: gloves that are more airtight than my previous pair, and some sort of throw blanket. You know those cheap woven gloves you can get at the supermarket for a dollar? One size fits all, from five years old to adult. I love them. But apparently they don't like being put through the dryer. So I replaced them with some leather gloves I got at one of the cheapo stores. Considering that they cost ten Euros (an eighth of what nice gloves in the department store cost) I think they're perfect. However, the thumbs are too long. I don't know what is wrong with French people's thumbs: Becky and I tried on just about every pair of gloves Les Galleries Lafayettes (think Macy's or Sak's) had, and every pair except one or two had really weird thumbs. Most forced the thumb to be way too close to the other fingers and not be as opposable as it should, and those that allowed the thumb freedom to move had about an inch of extra space at the tip. Some pairs were even tight at the top of the thumb, but baggy at the base. We were tempted to ask French women for permission to examine their hands, but resisted.
I also got a throw blanket, since my apartment gets cold at random times of day and I wanted something less bulky than a comforter to wrap myself in to watch movies. It's a useful thing to have.

- Sunday after Mass (with Mandy from Chicagoland and Jenny from Germany) and burgers (with Mandy and Jenny, plus Becky from Chicagoland and Michael from England) I wrote a letter to Air France, trying to sound both authoritative and polite. I did my best to use the formal French letter style, and therefore get them to respect me, but I didn't check too carefully for typos, figuring that my foreigner name combined with polite but not quite perfect French would make them think, "Hey, we don't want to have foreigners on our bad side... let's send her a check for 55 Euros pronto." Here's my letter, in case you're interested:
Karen Miller
[phone number]
[e-mail address]

le 16 novembre, 2007 [Yes, I backdated it slightly]
Madame, Monsieur,
Le 12 novembre mon vol AF3177 de Milan à Nantes a été annulé. Le prochain vol était AF3179 à 17h20. Ce vol était en retard, et quand je suis arrivée à la gare SNCF à Nantes (par navette), il n’y avait plus de trains pour Angers. Donc j’ai dû trouver un hôtel pour la nuit, et je suis retournée à Angers le matin du 13 vers 7h30. Je suis restée à l’Hôtel de Bourgogne, et la chambre a coûté 55 Euros 85 centimes. Je voudrais être remboursée pour ces frais.
Ci-joints, la facture de l’hôtel, ma carte d’embarquement, et une copie de ma réservation No. Z5Q2GW.
Je vous prie d’agréer, Madame, Monsieur, l’expression de mes salutations distinguées.
[I signed it here]
Karen Miller

Ta-da! I hate the French letter-writing style.

- Monday I apologized very politely to my translation (English-French) professor. Yes, I had been planning to miss her class anyway, but since my flight got cancelled I had an excuse and therefore decided to explain, "I'm really sorry, but I was in Milan for the weekend, and my flight got cancelled, and I couldn't get back on Monday." She said, "It doesn't matter, don't worry about it." And the weird thing is that she honestly didn't seem to care. Most French professors just assume that they'll usually have students cutting their class.

- Today I also went to a store that sells Fossil watches (it took me three weeks to find one) to have my watch fixed. It had lost one of the little bars that holds it to the strap. After years of always wearing a watch (with the tan line to prove it) going a couple weeks without was very difficult. I felt so much less motivated than usual, not having the time close at hand.

- This evening I took advantage of two new acquisitions (a glass bottle from the apple juice I got last week and some leftover pineapple juice from the drinks I brought to choir practice on Friday (Lyre from China, Judit from Hungary and I had volunteered to provide snacks for the break last week)) and made Russian Tea. There's absolutely nothing Russian about it, but it's good stuff. I wasn't sure of the exact proportions, but what I made came out tasty so here's the recipe:
Very hot tea (I used a combination of decaf vanilla chai and ginger tea, but you should probably use black tea unless you're allergic to caffeine and have to go non-traditional) with a dash of cinnamon mixed in
Pineapple juice
Orange juice
Pour tea into your bottle or pitcher until it looks about a third full. Then pour in the pineapple juice until it looks about two thirds full, and fill it the rest of the way with the orange juice. Close and shake the bottle, or if you're using a pitcher stir the mixture. Drink it while it's hot! Be careful, this stuff can be addictive.

- In general, this week is daunting, because I have several BIG things to do. But I won't spoil the suspense, you'll hear about things after they happen :)

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