I’ve always thought it was dumb when a blogger posts an item saying, “I’m working on final edits for my novel which will be published next month by Knopf, and I am testifying before Congress on the NEA budget this afternoon, so unfortunately I won’t be able to post my usual scintillating entry on the blog.” Gimme a break. If you don’t have the time to write something, don’t!

But here I am, in the final minutes before leaving for the Institute, feeling an addict’s craving to put new words on the blog. It’s as if some part of my life simply does not take place, or disappears into space if I don’t account for it in The Chronicles. Alors. Today I give my exposé to the Avancé I class. My subject is “Où Va Le Blog?” or “Where is the Blog Going?” I will speak for 30 minutes in French, and then answer questions for another 30 minutes.

The class is off to a fantastic start. Jean is a continuous cut-up at lunch, but in the classroom he is all business, conducting the 10 students like an orchestra, spotting small errors and using them to spin out elegant explanations of fine points in the language. My fellow students are from Japan (two), Oregon (a husband and wife, bravely risking their marriage by being in the same class together), Idaho, Florida, Germany, and Switzerland (two).

Darlene likes her new teacher, Patrize. Her class is off to a fast start. They covered in the first day what her class last month covered in the first week. She hopes she can keep up. Patrize had no problem with complicated Japanese and German names of students, but he seemed to block every time he came to Darlene’s name. This seems to be a common problem here; French people simply don’t know how to say “Darlene.” She has often been called “Charlene,” by the kitchen servers and by another teacher, Sylvie. Eventually, she decided to help her new teacher out out by saying, “Patrize, je m’appelle Fifi.” The classed laughed, and Patrize immediately began calling her Fifi and seemed relieved that she now had a name he was familiar with and could easily remember. And so, monsieurs et madames, Léonard has the pleasure of presenting to you his new wife: Fifi!

Excuse me for not writing more, but I’ve got to give a lecture in French on blogging and….

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