Today was "un jour oulipien" for me. Well, not this morning, when I woke up early to go to the TD (basically a discussion section) for the philosophy course at La Sorbonne ("What is man?" Hmm...I don't know...), but when I finally decided to ask a student, he told me that there were no TD's this week - they start next week. So, I woke up early for absolutely no reason. I'm very tired. Instead of going back to bed, which I knew I wouldn't be able to do, I went to l'Ile St. Louis and bought some pear flavored Berthillon ice cream. It wasn't as good as the salted caramel, but it was still good. As I walked through the snow and wind on the way back while eating my ice cream, I think everyone on the street thought I was insane. Good thing there's no thought bubble above my head that says: "This girl eating the ice cream while it's snowing is American." Hopefully, they just thought I was a crazy Parisian.
Then, this afternoon, I had my writing workshop at Paris 8 - I actually loved this course! It was a small class size, the professor reminded me a lot of my first writing professor at Hopkins (Jessica Blau - author of The Summer of Naked Swim Parties!), and the students were all very interested. In fact, I think I made a French friend too, though I shouldn't jinx it. She was in my literature class on Tuesday, but she had mostly talked to the other Americans while I was the dumb one talking to the Algerian (not that the Algerian wasn't nice, but she's not French). But, today, I talked to this girl, Christelle, a lot and she even went to the OuLiPo meeting with me. We talked forever and she said that I spoke much better French than all the other Americans at Paris 8 (apparently, we're everywhere). But anyway, about this course, it was a ton of fun. The thought of writing with constraints right there in class and then reading it out loud was a little scary at first, but the professor seemed to like what I wrote. It ended up being really fun. We worked with one constraint in particular - "Amplification" - where we took a short sentence and amplified each word without adding anything to the meaning whatsoever. For example, "Marcel becomes an author" (summary of In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust) became (I wrote this one in French, but I'll translate) "The author of In Search of Lost Time and also the narrator of this work, through a long process, begins with his childhood and finishes at the moment when he is a man capable of putting stories, thoughts, and characters on paper for readers." Isn't it so cool? By the way, I was the only student who knew the first sentence of In Search of Lost Time by heart in French!
Then, the OuLiPo meeting - it was just like the other one, but I understood a lot more. And, la pièce de résistance, I talked to Jacques Roubaud! Yes I did! There was a huge crowd of people around him, but I went right up to him and said (in French), "Do you know Jacques Neefs" and he said "Of course" and I said "He was my professor last semester" and he said "But he's in the United States" and I said "Well, I'm American and a student at Johns Hopkins" and he said "Johns Hopkins, I went there last year" and then someone else started talking to him. But, the point is, he didn't realize I was American!!!!!!! I'm not sure how many exclamation points would be appropriate, but that was a good start. But, the guy Justine's dad knows wasn't there, so I couldn't talk to him. And, I didn't get a picture either. But tant pis, at least I talked to Jacques Roubaud! And yes, I realize that I'm the only person in the world who would be so excited about that.