Sunday, January 29, 2012

Things I'm Not Good At

Simulation of me failing at napping...
Like most parents, my mom and dad always supported me in my endeavors when I was a child.  As long as they were appropriate endeavors.  I still recall my mother asking me why I didn’t take an interest in things like cars and sports while en route to a piano lesson.  I think she was also not-so-secretly critiquing my obsessive collection of Beanie Babies.  It was a phase that passed, though hundreds of beanbag animals still haunt my house, hidden away someplace. They’ll be worth money, just wait.

Be it music, school, or faithful adhesion to a plush obsession, I excelled when I put my heart into something.  Though as an adult (I laughed, too), I am discovering that I am not good at everything.  Suddenly, years of supportive coddling and “yes you can” praise have left poor Bryan with an ego the size of the Hindenburg, with a similar ending when failure strikes.  These revelations have come recently, but all too markedly.

1. Saying no has never been a problem when it comes to a drink, chocolate, or an opportunity to advance my burgeoning stardom.  Still, I am no good and absolutely incapable of saying no when I want to decline an offer.  It usually goes something like this:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What's, like, in a name?

My ditz survival pack...the essentials.

While joking with a good friend at the Sorbonne about what we’d name our babies (both parties aware of the joke), I told her I’d name our son Bob.  I like this name in French and I thought it would be a funny (note: these are the things Sorbonne students do before class).

She, French, and aghast, said, “No way. We’re not having an American name for our child.”  I asked what the problem was with an American name like Bob, or worse, Bryan.  I then learned something that I had not known about my name and others like it.  Certain American names for boys, according to this girl and other students, are the equivalent of names like Candy and Buffy in the US.

Essentially, to the French, Bryan is not only in the kitchen, but he’s a total ditz.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Finals at the Sorbonne: To Arms, Protestors, to Arms!

Coming up on the final semester of my masters at the Sorbonne Nouvelle, I felt empowered.  I had successfully completed three semesters of a French higher education program and boy oh boy did I feel accomplished.  We students were enriched, hardworking and – I thought – all grown up.

Then came finals time.  This week we were taking our end of the semester exams and chaos ensued, per usual.  We all showed up to take a communications history test on Tuesday only to find that the professor had sent a proxy to administer the test.  Strike 1.
My outline...note lower righthand corner...

Once we all sat down for the two hour test, we began looking at out clocks wondering why we weren’t starting.  Finally the proxy handed out paper and began to read the question.  Halfway through, most jaws were slightly dropped at the apparently absurdity of the question’s set up.  Then said jaws hit the table when the proxy said, “I can’t read the rest…”  This was like a press conference where the president’s microphone cuts out just before he’s about to announce a war.  It was awkward.  Strike 2.

The proxy scrambled to call the professor before running downstairs to the department to ask for help.  All the while, we students tapped our feet impatiently.  The clock continued moving and time was running out for our session.

Finally, the proxy contacted the professor, found the real tests, and, with just over an hour to go, began handing them out – until a voice in the back rose up.  “Monsieur, we only have an hour, do we really have to take the test?”  Strike 3