Getting Fat and Dealing With French Condescension

I haven’t been keeping up with my blog for the past few weeks and ho boy, did the comments, postings and emails blow up. It’s like that old episode of I Love Lucy where Lucy lets everything pile up on the chocolate factory, only I wasn’t seeing the chocolates threatening to avalanche because it was all happening in the mystical, invisible land of the internet.

lucy.jpgSo, today I literally tackled 4000 emails. They weren’t entirely my blog’s fault because I also spent half the day unsubscribing from various marketing assembly lines, which was a dragon whose slaying was long overdue.

I mean, what else was going to happen to an openminded, very curious (likely undiagnosed attention-disordered)  woman like myself? SURE, I’d love to learn about the world of cycling and how runners should eat. How about the mysteries of ancient civilizations and Abraham Lincoln’s private letters while we’re at it? Of COURSE, I want to hear about whenever your breakthrough mascaras that will change my life forever go on sale (shockingly perfect eyelashes -> ? -> perfect life!) And WOW, you’ll tell me whether I have a fire, air, earth or water personality with your free quiz if I just enter my email that you promise not to share with anyone? (So weird, because Six Flags over Georgia keeps telling me about their promotions, though I’m almost positive I never asked).

frenchsnob.pngAaaaand on top of that, I started taking a French class with my mom and working out early in the morning, which screws up my powerfully creative middle-of-the-night writing time more than you’d expect. You see, mom and I thought I would be nice to do something together, like take a French film class. Except she’s a retired French teacher and I… well, I learned some French from hearing her speak it when I was little and later studied it in school, but I haven’t used it in quite some time. Picking a class that would neither bore mom to tears nor be ridiculously over my head was a true challenge.

So, I took a placement test and according to the Alliance Francaise, I’m an Advanced Intermediate, but it hardly feels that way when I’m watching French war films from the 60’s, paying extremely close attention to everyone’s body language in the desperate hope  of figuring out a gnat’s wing of context, and reading out French dialogues in class while feeling about as ashamed as I’d imagine feeling after just peeing on the public floor. (Why do they have to talk SO FAST!?)

The entire class is in French, including the instructions, and while I understand about 87% of it, I nevertheless have to hear myself answering the teacher in cavewoman grunts while watching her look at me with that pained, patronizing expression that means she’s pretending that I don’t sound like an idiot so I won’t get discouraged. When it’s just too rough, I occasionally break into English again, whereupon she looks mildly startled by my capacity for abstract reasoning, as though she’d assumed my aching attempts at normal French conversation reflected my general aptitude. This must be how blind people feel when others shout at them in slow, simple language. Or immigrants, when natives assume that their fractured grammar represents how their whole brain operates.

Eh, I complain because it’s entertaining, but I’m actually enjoying this class a great deal. I like being forced to learn something new. You see, I spend most of my time around toddlers, and while I love my kids to pieces and cherish the time I spend with them, it’s not exactly an intellectual challenge, right about now. For example, I spent the bulk of today’s afternoon helping my 3-year-old practice writing her name, which consisted of her randomly scribbling on a paper then looking really proud of her alphabet mastery. Essentially, she was me in French class, except she’s blissfully unaware of how far off she is, whereas I can’t help but catch every micro-condescension in my French teacher’s eyes.

But in addition to taking the French class, I’ve also started waking up early to work out. You may be wondering why, given my obvious night-owl tendencies…

You see, I decided to start exercising more and eating better after my five-year-old started asking me if she was going to get a new baby sister.

“No,” I told her. “Daddy and I are happy with two girls. We aren’t going to have another baby.”

“But your belly is sooo… BIG. Like when you were making Bridget.”


“No, I’m not having another baby.”

“But it’s getting BIGGER and BIGGER!”

Frankly, I think she’s being a bit of a weight Nazi, because I’ve only put on around ten pounds or so.

Maybe 15. Okay, maybe it’s 15 and I happen to think 15 pounds from skinniness is a little premature to start asking your mom whether she’s pregnant. Still, I read something about how only yoga pants and toddlers tell the truth and figure if your belly is getting big enough for your kids to notice it, it’s probably time to jump on it before it becomes a larger issue.

And it could be worse, given that she’s also been asking her dad if he’s making her a baby brother, since she assumes women make girls while men make boys. Which makes primitive sense, assuming you don’t fully understand the process.

So, I’ve recently embarked on a P90x exercise routine in the mornings, because doing it anytime later throws off my entire day, as well as a bold attempt at eating better. The whole process has made me reflect on how much easier it is to get fat and out of shape once you have kids.

I plan to talk about it in my next posting.









12 thoughts on “Getting Fat and Dealing With French Condescension

  1. Welcome back! It sounds like you’ve added a lot more hectic onto a usually hectic schedule, but good for you on doing something with your mom.

    I understand what you’re saying about adding in regular exercise, and how that clobbers writing time, when you have a previously regulated sweet-spot writing time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Patrick!!! 🙂

      It has… it really has clobbered my middle-of-the-night writing space. Everything has piled up and I need to get through it soon. I haven’t kept up and want to get through the backlog of people’s writing. You know, there’s the “short list” of people you must be sure to follow within the larger list of followed blogs (you’re on my short list). I’ve tackled the emails, so onto the short list, then back in the groove.

      Yes, it’s nice to do something with your mom! As a grownup, where you’re dealing with assignments and bouncing ideas off each other like two grownups with shared goals, lol.

      Argh, overwhelmed! i notice you’ve written more stuff lately and I promise to get to it once I wrestle this crazy blog back into submission.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s so nice to know that I’m the short list! I get an email alert whenever you publish anything, because your writing is on my short list too. True fact!

        Best of luck on working in your writing, but don’t kill yourself, obviously. But I’m sure Bridget and Bronte will continue to provide you with tons of material to write about.


  2. haha awesome. I’ve been hibernating in Canadian winters and I do not feel like unfurling from the couch. Yesterday got surprisingly warm and I had to step out without my jacket and then realized I need to hit the gym. I also learnt French for work but unlike you, I hated learning it and I am exactly the same stage of understanding 87% of understanding what everyone’s saying and using monkey hand gestures to respond. But good on you for waking up early and exercising because if I decided to wake up to exercise, I would never exercise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, Canada… where French really means something (as opposed to in America, where it feels more like a labor of love).

      Funny, the idea of learning French for work seems so foreign to me. For me, it’s more a connection to world travel and my childhood… something *outside* the culture I’m used to. I’m glad you get where I am with it–people usually think of foreign language as something you become fluent in once you’ve learned a certain amount, but you can know SO much and still feel lost. It’s the great conundrum of being an advanced intermediate, where you can either be completely lost or kind of get the gist of what everyone is saying, yet still not be able to intelligently respond, lol (I’m working on it).

      Whew, I’m SO not a morning person either. But I find that exercising in the morning helps, plus I’m a little delirious at the time, so I don’t clearly remember it. If I leave it until later in the day, I always find reasons not to do it at all. I’m really hoping I can keep it up…


      1. Ya but I’d rather that language be a labor of love rather than just labor. That’s the way it feels when it’s mandatory and you HAVE to learn it as part of your job requirement. I think I would have loved the language a lot more if I had learnt it on my own account. And yes everyone’s also so impressed that I am bilingual but I am so hesitant to use that word for myself because my actual working knowledge of French is so questionable. I really do hate being dumb in another language. That’s an interesting way to approach exercising. I may have to try it out.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. So true! If I were studying a language for practical reasons, Spanish would clearly be the way to go since I live in California. I did study it a bit, but it’s hard to start all over again when you’ve already gotten a foothold in another language.

          I’m not sure when someone officially becomes bilingual. You can know SO much, yet still feel so lost. I’ve relied on French before to do practical things (book a hotel room, get directions, order, have simple conversations), so I have basic working knowledge–enough that I can probably convey a thought if I need to. But I’m still stumbling through French all the time, making French people wince, lol.

          I recommend early morning exercise, if you can do it. I’m trying hard to stick to it because it does help. You get it out of the way and it wakes you up earlier, plus you can shower and change and not dirty up extra clothes.


  3. I feel compelled to convey I had three years of French in high school and got credit for two of them. In retrospect, I would have taken Spanish. Not that the grass is any greener learning any other language – I think it would have had more relevancy now because way more folks I know have Spanish for a second language than French. I struggled to learn what I learned in junior high and have now forgotten 87% of it. Weight Nazis in all shapes and sizes can provide motivation for change. Fortunately, I have cleared my immediate space of their kind. I do try to keep in good shape but “settle” on what ultimately feels right to roll with. (Those BMI charts are the most distorted view of health I’ve ever seen…)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Heh, you too? 🙂

      I’ve tried my hand at a few different languages, but probably feel a special connection to French because I’ve heard it since I was a little girl. Spanish would undoubtedly be more practical, especially since I live in California and run into Spanish about 6000 times more often than I come across French. All the practical kids took Spanish in school.

      Haha, weight Nazis are definitely motivating, annoying though they may be. I’m inclined to jump on it because losing 15 pounds is a lot easier than 50, but I also believe in being reasonable. For example, I really can’t stomach a life of egg white cartons and broiled, unsalted chicken breasts. Bland food makes me irrationally angry. I’m always trying to find the right balance between food that’s reasonably healthy, yet not too gross to be sustainable, and find myself doing a lot of crazy things like making fancy bread from scratch because it makes it harder to have a huge supply.

      Totally agree with the flawed BMI, though. I’m not sure why it’s supposed to be a big improvement over the old height/weight charts, because it’s just another height-weight equation. I’m actually fine by BMI standards. but notice when my clothes are getting tight and have known plenty of ultra-fit people who were overweight by the BMI standard.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Whoa Erin! So much going on!
    1) I’m jealous you actually unsubscribed to so many emails bogging down your inbox.
    2) French? Really cool. I think you should plan a vacation after your class 🙂
    3) My daughter told me 3 times on Easter morning I needed to change because she didn’t like my dress. She is 2. It was a simple green wrap dress. I am certain you look fine 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was amazed by how many feeds I’ve ended up on. Each one isn’t a big deal, but collectively they’re jamming up my inbox. I think it gets stressful… information overload!

      I think a trip would be awesome. Maybe to Montreal (it’s closer) and someday Europe, once I’m sure the kiddos will sit all the way through dinner, lol. Gives me more incentive to study.

      You’re probably right– kids make outrageous criticisms on a whim. It’s. it that big a weight gain and I tend to fret about stuff like that. It’s good to be healthy, but we should probably also watch our body confidence issues around little girls at this age too.


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