Saturday, October 9, 2010

How do you say huge wimp in French?

I have turned cowardly in the past week or so. For my first couple weeks in Paris, I bravely slogged through trips to the grocery store, course registration, immigration office appointments, apartment hunting visits, and job interviews all in French. And I made dozens of phone calls--enough to use up that little French cell phone card that cost me $70 in about 3 days. But now, when my phone rings, it strikes fear in my heart. I know it's not going to be a call I want to take. Yesterday morning my phone rang and I saw it was a French number and I stared at it as my pulse started racing, and I just listened to it ring and could not summon the courage to answer it. I could think of a few possibilities of who it might be--the bank calling to ask me where was the more recent gas bill I needed to furnish to prove I actually live where I said I do, or one of my employers calling with a change to my teaching schedule, or someone from my choir calling to arrange carpooling to a weekend retreat--and I simply could not face it. So I didn't answer. Whoever it was didn't leave a message, which left me slightly curious but also elated. Not only did I not have to answer the phone, I didn't have to spend an hour deciphering a message and then working up the courage to call them back, either!

So, on the topic of my wimpiness--today I leave for the "weekend d'intégration" with my French choir. I've had these choir retreats in the US before, only they didn't involve staying overnight in an abbey or lots of meals and wine and games--they were just about giving up your whole weekend to learn a couple concerts' worth of music. (I always avoided them because what's more boring than 2 full days of amateur choral rehearsals when you're not the one conducting?-- and besides, if you bother to learn the music ahead of time you can't keep things slightly more fun and challenging by having to sight-read in rehearsals.) So anyway, I stupidly agreed to come to this one and now I'm looking at a full two days and one night trapped with a bunch of singing Frenchies, only three of whom I have ever even spoken to or whose names I know, but all of whom I will probably have to kiss multiple times over the next 36 hours. I could not be more terrified. Why did I ever join a French choir? Why didn't I decide to just continue singing with my mostly American choir, comprised of people who are simply trying to pretend they are French?

So, I'm off to singing Frenchie-land. Wish me luck.

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