Absorbing the French

By October 10, 2010 How To

In high school, I had a very odd French teacher. I don’t know that she seemed that odd at the time, but looking back on it, and knowing what I know now about how teachers are supposed to act around students, I’m coming up with odd.

Madame told us all sorts of things that I don’t think she should have shared (according to school policy, anyway). Not dirty things or anything lewd, unfortunately, just the sorts of tidbits that we shouldn’t have known. About her Man Piece who I think she eventually married, about her daughter who (when I piece my 15-16-17-year-old memories together in my 37-year-old brain) had some severe learning disabilities, if not something like Autism, about her thoughts on the school’s administration and, of course, about her life and her deep dissatisfaction with it.

She ended up feeling more like a friend than a teacher. And I liked her. Did I learn much French? Un peu. But I did feel really bad when I skipped class. Which I did a lot. (Hey, in my defense: Senior year, AP French was 7th period, I had 5th and 6th free and my boyfriend, the lovely Brad Downer, had 5th, 6th and 7th period off, my high school had ‘open campus’ which meant we could come and go as we pleased, he lived 1 mile from school and his mom worked all day…hmmm…conjugate verbs or conjugate Brad Downer….you do the math.)

But very little of that has anything to do with this post.

I remember very clearly this one day when our dear Madame told us that one of the most significant signs that we were really starting to learn, understand and absorb French was this: it would enter our subconscious and we’d know that it had because it would enter through our dreams.

And I remember the first time I dreamed in French. And I remember telling her about it the next day. And how excited she was. And the smile she gave me.

***********************

I have been fascinated these past few days to read your comments (and private emails) in response to my Existentialism post. You are all so passionate, so opinionated! Per usual, because we’re writers (and, I suppose, human) you took a simple question and loaded it with preconceived notions, your own story, the story you have about me, fears about all the laundry that has to be done…and so much more.

In response to the ‘welcome back’ tweets and comments:

  1. I never left, I’ve just been posting once a week, instead of 3-5 times a week.
  2. Depending on your definition of ‘back’, I might not be—I can’t see making 3-5 posts a week in the near future. But maybe you’ve been missing my once a weekers, so you thought I’d really been gone?

In response to the ‘you can’t force creativity, don’t make yourself post if you don’t have anything to write about’ comments:

  1. Yeah…about that…that’s not really the issue here.
  2. Just as I believe there’s a Sex and the City quote or episode applicable to just about every life situation that I can think of, I can find words and ideas to write for every life situation that I can find myself in.
  3. The day that stops is the day someone sticks a fork in me and sees that the juices are, tragically, running clear.

In response to the ‘yes I care and want to know’ comments:

  1. Thank you.
  2. And don’t worry, I’m about to fill you in.

In response to those of you that got rather uppity and self-righteous in our collective defense:

  1. Exactly.

And finally, in response to the dude that wondered if I choose to include my ‘self’ in my blog posts, in my writing:

  1. I’d sooner die than not include my self in my writing, in what I share.
  2. He clearly isn’t a regular here. (But, I’m delighted he showed up at least that once.)
  3. Maybe he was speaking generally and not directly to me?
  4. Writing without the self, is like most every food without the butter—dry, desperately sad and pointless.

So…I have been writing less (again, to be clear (she said defensively) I have not stopped, just less-frequented my postings) because I have been, drumroll please, busy.

Come on, people! You’ve seen me write through soul-destructing heartbreak, mind-pulverizing PMS, chocolate obsessions, public nudity, vanquished flying fears…what did you think could have possibly derailed me now?

You’d better come up with something good. Like tongue-stealing bunny rabbits. Or something.

I’m sorry to be boring and tell you that my reason for writing less is just, quite simply, a tremendous amount of work. And yet…

…it’s not really boring.

I’m working a LOT as Creative Director and Writer for a creative agency that produces internal meetings and trainings for big old corporations. I’m writing and directing videos. I’m composing creative strategies for meeting flows and scenic support. I’m working with amazing people. I’m helping to inspire people (read: corporate audiences so that they do their jobs better). I’m traveling (and fearlessly flying). I’m way out of my comfort zone and therefore, learning a shit ton and (hmmm…how can I NOT say ‘growing’) germinating my brain and conceptual powers at the speed of, ummm, 5th Ave.

The learning curve has been big.

I do well when I really know something, when I get it at the most basic, core, all-encompassing level. And I’m trying to get there with this new work…so that I can really make the people who plucked me out several months ago and said, ‘yes, we know you’ve never done this before, but we know you can’ proud.

A lot is new. Suddenly, I know and say things like, ‘spec comm’ and ‘IML’ and ‘rough cut’ and ‘cross fade’ and ‘DP’ (which, in this context, means Director of Photography not double penetration. Who knew? That one, in particular, was cause for an uncomfortable moment in the office.)

It’s like learning a new language.

Which is why I was thrilled the other morning when I woke up and realized that I’d dreamed all night about work. All night. It was fast and hard and crazy and invigorating, this dream—just like work is. I woke up tired and like I’d just had 7 bars of Green & Black’s 85% dark chocolate.

And I also woke up wondering where Madame is. Because she’d give me that smile again and tell me that this was a sign. A sign that my efforts are worth it. A sign that it’s soaking in, deep.

Image credit: worldmegan

Join the discussion 12 Comments

  • Julie: I just finished reading this. In reference to the paragraph that’s titled “…its not really boring”, I’m here to offer assistance. After working in the film industry as a production designer for about 25 years, and working on hundreds, if not thousands, of music videos, commercials, TV shows, feature films and industrials, I know people you might need to know (all over the world) and I know, well, things. I’m not in that world anymore, but I still have all my connections and resources, which I lay at your feet. Call or email if you get stuck :o)

  • Alisa Bowman says:

    Dang–how do I go back to the previous post and read all the comments???

  • Alisa Bowman says:

    Ignore more. Not enough caffeine in the system yet. Doh.

  • Kim Lucas says:

    Never thought you were derailed just missed your unique perspective on life and your gift for conveying with the right amount of wit, sarcasm and reflection. Wishing you continued success!

  • Amy Oscar says:

    How do I love your blog? Let me count the ways:
    1) I love your writing
    2) I love witnessing your process
    3) I love and am inspired, every time I come here, by your integrity and your honest and open discussion of the challenges you face – and the joy that you bring to solving and meeting those challenges
    4) It feels nice here
    5) I can’t think of another reason but I want to hang around in your energy a moment longer…

    Thank you

  • Grayson says:

    It’s all great but I am overly found of the “juices running clear” comment.

    It made me laugh out loud AGAIN.

  • Julies.
    Bonne reves.
    You continue to inspire.
    Arlene

  • Renee says:

    When I was “fluent” in French back in the days, I had dreams in French a few times… I remember being so confused during each dreaming wondering how in the world I was able to speak and understand French that clearly

  • Shannon says:

    First… verbal-fan-diarrhea…

    As uge, the writing is so good I want to read every single word on the page, articles and all, punctuation, paragraph organization, not skipping, not skimming, not half-reading like I do with most things that are pushed on to my little gray desk, that being, unfortunately about IT/insurance, typically something else that has broken down and is going to make me wig-out, as in I pull all my hair out and need a wig… and then I come over here. Have you ever dipped pretzels in chocolate? I am to pretzel as your writing prowess is to chocolate. OMG. Yes. I did just put that in SAT format. I need to read some more articles before my groove is back.

    Second… I’ve decided that you need to move to Paris, and you need to pick Andi up on your way out of town because we’re long overdue for brunch.

  • Andi says:

    Knew it was all good, I really love it because now you can relate to me even more…my corporate life is as crazy as your agency life…but it is a good crazy and I KNOW you are going to thrive because you ROCK!

  • Julie, I know exactly the feeling you describe. That moment when the learning curve, which was something you were once gazing up at in slight shock, is now something you’re hurtling along on. (And dreaming about. But make sure those dreams stay invigorating, and not agitating…)

    I’m so happy for you that you’re busy in a good way. And not bored. And discovering new meanings for old acronyms, like DP. I would have fumbled that one, too. It’s good you have understanding colleagues who believe in you. ;)

    I don’t comment nearly often enough, but to reiterate, you’re one of my blogging idols and your posts about getting your writing career started (even in the absence of content) largely inspired me to, well, start. So if you want to blog just once a YEAR, it’s OK – I’ll wait.

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