THE LANGUAGE OF FOOD

Ordering wine, coffee and dessert just got easier now that I have the right words!
Credit S. Winston

My Duolingo app French education has finally gotten to the good stuff–food! With only eleven days until my departure, I’m pretty confident that I will NOT remember all the correct masculine and feminine cases, but I will be remember that “cafe” is “coffee”; “biere” is “beer”; and “pain” doesn’t have to hurt, it just has to taste good because means bread.

IT’S THE TWELVE DAYS OF PARIS

…and this is what I’ve learned:

Trois voitures

Deux pizzas

and I know that orange is feminine.

With twelve days remaining before I set off for Paris, I’ve been hard at work studying French on Duolingo. I am officially in a panic.

Indeed, I’ve learned over two-hundred-fifty words. I can say “I want” (je veux) and “I have” (j’ai). I know how to say phrases, such as, “I have three cars” (J’ai trois voitures).”

But, I’m not certain that will help me check into the hotel. It probably won’t even get me a ride from l’aeroport.

What’s worse is when I get frustrated and my mind starts to search for the correct word or phrase, it defaults to the only foreign language it know–Spanish. And if you knew how poor my Spanish was, you’d know how much trouble I’m in.

I’ve been in love with the idea of Paris since I was a kid. I learned a lot of cool phrases while I was writing Jada Sly, Artist & Spy. The idea of creating an African American girl born in New York, who lived in France for five years, was like putting my own childhood fantasy on paper.

Sherri Winston on writing Jada Sly, Artist & Spy

The spy part, too. I always wanted to be a spy. (My mom said soon as someone tickled my tummy, I’d giggle and give up all the secrets. Mom was a dream killer.)

I’ve got twelve more days. That’s all. I can’t become fluent in the time I have left, but perhaps I can manage not to humiliate myself while asking for le metro.

A bientôt!

(That means “see you soon!)

DAY THREE: I’m trying

Looking forward to the future.

The impetus for my upcoming Paris trip is just fulfilling a lifelong dream. I’ve always rejected the concept of “A bucket list,” yet I am conscious of wanting to start this next chapter of my life before …well, I kick the bucket.

My mom was a tough woman. A smart, fiery, determined woman who loved her kids with the ferocity of a mama lion. She had so many plans for her life—a life she kept waiting and waiting to begin.

Mommy died Christmas of her 56th year on this earth. That Christmas is fast approaching for me. I needed to celebrate her life and mine by no longer waiting, but acting.

Here’s to you “ma mere.” And to all the hard-working mamas out there with hopes and dreams. I’m going to parlez vous my butt off!

FIRST TRIP ABROAD

In twenty-one days, I take my first European vacation. I feel like Chevy Chase! Paris here I come.

It’s been a life-long dream to travel to France. I even created a character in my newest book—Jada Sly, Artist & Spy—who lived for five years in Bordeaux, France, before moving back to her hometown, my other favorite city in the world, New York City.

I’ve been immersing myself in all that is ooo-la-la. Back over the summer, I started using the Duo Lingo app to study French. It’s a great app, but with only weeks left until time for me to leave, I realized I wasn’t learning fast enough. It’s a solid learning tool, but unless I bump into Paul or Marie and want to use their “voiture” (car), I need more help.

I’ve added Mango languages to my learning repertoire. Now I can sound like a bumbling American on two separate platforms!

To keep myself on my toes, every day between now and departure I will post updates on my preparations. I thought it would be fun to share details of my upcoming departure as well as fun details about my favorite young spy, Jada Sly. Until tomorrow, bonsoir!