Secret Life of a Nerd Girl: Mieux vivre sa vie
I just spent 3 hours at the U.S. Embassy of Paris, to fill out and notarize one piece of paper. I waited one hour to get the piece of paper. The woman said “write everything in French and don’t make any mistakes,” so I did, but where it said “I come from the State of: _______” I wrote the state I was coming from, Maine, not the state I was born in, which is what they wanted. So I got another form, and another number and waited another 40 minutes to bring the paper to another counter. This time when I filled it out, I had started to write 1973 where I should have written 2007, and my hopeful attempt to turn the 1 into a 2 and the 9 into a 0 was rejected. So I got another piece of paper and another number. I put my French zip code after the city, instead of before, so I got another piece of paper. By this time almost everyone was gone, and they let me fill out the form at the window.
I thought going to the U.S. Embassy would make me feel all patriotic and stuff, with clean cut marines at the gate and big portraits of Obama on the walls. Instead it was like going to the DMV, but a French DMV with embarrassingly tight security (you can’t even walk on the sidewalk in front of the building) run by people who don’t speak English.
The US Embassy of Paris’s notarial services department is open during the exact hours of the French class I’m taking. I didn’t make it to class today, but I did my homework. It was a writing assignment where I present myself as a potential contestant on a reality show called To Live Better. I’m supposed to talk about the difficulties in my life and how they could be improved.
I translated it to English, and I thought I would share. Annotations in brackets.
Note: Aside from suffering jetlag, guilt from over-eating, and a chronic sore throat from pronouncing the French “r” incorrectly, life is pretty good. But I can always find something to complain about.
To the producers of To Live Better,
I have many difficulties in my life. I’m new in Paris and I don’t know the city very well. Every time I take the metro I have to study a map for 10 minutes. I forget to open the door when the train stops [you have to open the door to the train yourself, kind of like the back door of a bus, but I stand there like a dufus waiting for them to open]. At home I go into the bathroom when I want to use the toilet [these are often different rooms, the toilet is in a closet, the bathroom is where you bathe, it makes sense but it’s an extra stop if you want to be civilized and wash your hands]. I have to go downstairs for ice cubes if I want to drink cold water [a refrigerator that has a freezer inside it is an ‘american-style’ fridge and it’s way more expensive than buying separate components]. I’m afraid to order bread because I make lots of mistakes when I talk. I hardly know anyone here except for my bf and his cat, and the cat doesn’t speak French or English. Poor me.
[The following is where I use the subjunctive and conditional moods to express my wishes and hopes, the topic of this week in level B1 French]
I hope that, with your aid, my life will improve. I would like the streets of the city to become easier to understand because I don’t want to get lost. It’s necessary that I remember to open the doors of the train or I will be stuck there. I hope I learn where the toilet is and where the sink is, or else I might pee in the sink. It’s necessary that I keep water in the refrigerator to have cold water to drink. I would like to make fewer mistakes when I order food, or else I will die of hunger. I hope I find friends to go out with, and the cat must learn French or English because nobody can understand him.
You can see that my difficulties are serious and I have desperate need of your aid. I would like very much to learn how to live better.
Thanks for listening. If my French teacher Tony is out there, I’ll hand this in Monday. In French.