Friday, 26 April 2013

Back to normal

Normal here means my normal style; less "blue". My girlfriend assigns colours to my blog, but she also leaves out the u in colour so we'll take what she says with a pinch of salt. (She's coming back tomorrow, and I react to the reappearance in my life of those I've missed by being sarcastic and mean.) In any case, today began with a bang as I had an hour-long meeting five minutes after I got in. It was a great meeting, with lots of positive actions coming out of it, but all the same - that much French a mere 90 minutes after I'd woken up and blearily switched on +France24 is too much, even for someone with my staggering intellect and endless reserves of modesty.

In any case, I understood everything, and have now been commissioned to record myself giving one presentation about mind maps as well as film a series of clips for a secret project. Secret for the moment, in any case. There'll be more about it once I have more details for sharing. In any case, that brought me to 10, when I went to work for the Association, sorting out figures from last year. The accounts seem to be a bit of a mess, but I was reassured by my colleague that the figures I'd worked with last year were all wrong, and the ones I know held in my hands were the "good" ones.

(To all French students of English:  le bon is "the right one", and not "the good one. We can't make moral judgements about numbers.)

I had to fortify myself with coffee to bite back the quick response, which was why on earth was I not given the right figures in the first place, and as I waited for the dark nectar to fill my cup I realised that they probably thought they were the right figures in the first place. It is far too easy to leap to the conclusion that everyone had the information then that they do now, and it's simply untrue. I took a deep breath, a deep draught of coffee, squared my shoulders, and wrote lovely formulas to make numbers jump across pages and add up in neat little columns.

I darted back and forth between the Association and the mediatheque for the rest of the morning as students dropped in for books and DVDs. I have been dong that a lot recently, as I'm yet to work out how to automatically transfer calls. It seems that whenever I am in the Association nobody calls but the world wants to get in touch with the mediatheque, while when I'm in the mediatheque the world and his brother are both calling my Association phone. Sometimes, just for fun, they'll ring together, and I'll get so confused I run into a wall.

I have a fitness machine disguised as a pair of phones and it is a sadistic son of a gun.

I am also only now discovering the joys of endless e-mail threads, where you read something and then write your reply and send to all, because your opinion is so damn important that everyone must read it. Not just the project leader. Everyone on the project. This guy, who did a little picture montage and then nothing else this morning came into an inbox full of e-mail tennis about the correct wording of the French text in the e-mail that accompanied the montage.

And right at the bottom, after scrolling through for twenty minutes and trying to decipher the semantic battle waging, I find: "The montage is fine."

Road rage is a picnic with Winne the Pooh compared to the sensation coursing through a fellow's bloodstream on having read every line of this silliness in hope of any sort of feedback on one's work and finding it consists of four words.

No matter. I quit the business at midday, and threw myself into mediatheque work. The first part of the dual projects I have going on require a translation in which I have - and gods, I love my colleague for saying this - I have white card.

You've never seen anyone look so blank in your life. He repeated.

"Tu as white card pour faire ce que tu veux"

Understanding crept over me like moss creeps over a boulder. Slowly.

"Carte blanche?" I asked.

He beamed. "Oui!"

I almost bit through my lip trying not to laugh. What are the odds that he would pick that exact phrase to translate? Marvelous. A moment of pure comedy.

So I've broken down some of the heavier phrases and pages into more manageable chunks, like a bar of 95% chocolate recommended by the mother of an ex-girlfriend. I've played with the phrasing but, reading back what I've written, I'm realising that I may need to tone down the "me-ness" in it for those who don't speak my particular brand of English.

All of this, by the way, and it wasn't even lunchtime. I love working this hard, the time absolutely flows. I also love Fridays, because I get served this after lunch:

Pictured: why you want to work in France.
Second coffee of the day and this time with chocolate. There's just too much dark deliciousness there.

Straight after lunch I had a meeting with M, who's in charge of social media at the School. She's also charming, smart, and my co-collaborator on my third current project. She'll be interviewing a senior member of staff about an exciting new relationship that the School is developing, and she wants me to help her film and then subsequently edit the footage. We'll be adding in watermarks and doing our best to make the whole thing look as professional as possible.

Exciting times!

The rest of the afternoon was then given over to Chapter 4 of the book, which I didn't even realise I'd not seen yet. While I'll be losing marks for, you know, noticing stuff, I think it should be well noted that I then promptly busted my ass for another 90 minutes before throwing everything in a bag and running off to teach my private students.

Their lessons went well, though it's interesting to see that B, while more confident, is still a lot shakier on grammar than C - but C would rather carve her own arms off than say more than a sentence at a time. I need some way to meld them into one super-student and then divide them in two.

Crashed home, bought a kebab on the way - immigration is amazing for so many reasons, but the spread of spectacular food is the one I love best - and now, at twenty past ten, I'm considering going to bed. I had a lucky escape today; I was offered the last ticket to a party happening tonight in the Tour Montparnasse, the 2nd highest point in Paris. I was more than tempted; despite the long day, this was one of those occasions that will never come again.

But when I dug into my pockets I found nothing; not even a bit of fluff. Not even a moth to comically flutter out to denote my total lack of cash. The opportunity passed me by.

Let's be honest - after last time, that's probably just as well.