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rue-madame's Diaryland Diary

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La rentrée

Have I mentioned this before? It’s officially Autumn in Paris. The sky is a light cool gray, and the leaves have started falling. I’ve been wearing sweaters. The other evening I ordered a chocolat chaud while sitting at the terrasse of a café. This is my favorite time of year, actually. Potential and optimism are palpable, and I always want to run out and get new scratchy school clothes.

When I was a kid, I would promise myself to work diligently at school starting in September, to try really, really hard to be as good a student as my sisters for whom 18/20s were seemingly effortless. For the first 3 or 4 months of the year, I would pull it off to the teachers’ astonishment (and my parents’.) I would invariably slide back into my Ferdinand the Bull ways after Christmas, whispering to my neighbors, passing notes, drawing and daydreaming instead of concentrating. It’s not that I wasn’t clever or smart; I just wasn’t interested. A year ago, I found all of my report cards in one of my parents’ file cabinets, and realized that all of the signs for who am I am today WERE THERE. It startled me. All of the teachers praised my handwriting (you learn cursive in the 1st grade in French schools,) my drawing, my singing and recitation, my dancing and coordination; on the other hand, they all had the same negative things to say about my chattiness (“Elle est trop bavarde avec ses voisines” too chatty with my neighbors,) and my lack of application in certain subjects (“fautes d’étourderie” thoughtless mistakes and 10/20s (or worse) in calcul mental—this is a cruel exercise where the teacher calls out calculations and you have to do them in your little brain. Example: 13--pause--plus 19--pause--times 2--pause--minus 11 etc...torture! Even now it freaks me out.)

I have not changed!

This was further confirmed to me right before I came to France. My sister sent me an envelope containing a book I illustrated and art directed in the 4th grade. 4th grade! I was obsessed at that time with making books, and I would write stories and draw pictures then staple the pages together. This book was all about Raggedy Ann and Andy, and apparently I had some of my classmates help me out in the illustration department. All the signs were pointing to my becoming a designer obsessed with typography and book design. I distinctly remember making another 8 page tome for my family, where I drew a picture of each person and devoted a whole page to each one. My insane mother threw the book down and had a tantrum when she realized she was listed last. Though I didn’t do it on purpose, I now realize that putting her at the end was telling.

11:23 p.m. - 2001-09-04

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