La vie en rose

People keep giving me advice on how to improve my French. I guess it’s because I speak like a Spanish cow. A colleague tried to suggest French music to me, where the enunciation is clear. I am really picky with my music, though. I mostly worship at the altar of Amanda Palmer. For the first 4 weeks of my commute I have been listening to the same 5 albums over and over again – because they were on my phone and the phone was almost full. After the 4 weeks I dug out my ancient external hard disk where I put the content of my old computer before the move and found maybe 7 more albums by Amanda Palmer, Zoe Boekbinder, Regina Spektor – and that’s all I’ll need for the next 4 weeks, I suppose.

The French food blog I like published a playlist of Paris songs, that I might listen to. It’s just that when I think about it for too long, then I wonder if that’s like someone listening to a playlist of Austrian music like “Schifoarn” and “I am from Austria” and then I want to wash my ears out with soap and return to my usual suspects.

Instead of listening to actual French people speaking/singing French, I watched the video of Iggy Pop singing “La vie en rose” three times today. The tweet called it an “Artfully Animated Video”, but I think he looks like Prince Charming from Shrek 20 years later. I am considering sharing the video with my colleagues as a little troll, because I suspect they’d be horrified by the pronunciation.

Their pronunciation of English isn’t much better, for the most part. But Americans pronouncing French badly is simply a lot less charming than French people insisting on putting the accent of every word on the last syllable, no matter what language.

Anglicisms in French are a story unto itself and really well explained in this video by Sebastian Marx:

It’s not an exaggeration – people at work usually don’t understand me, if I pronounce an English word like I usually would. I’ve actually started pronouncing English words their way and have mostly stopped feeling weird about it.

The rules are a bit random, though: When a colleague brought a comic book to work the other day I learned that it’s batman, pronounced with an /ɑː/ (and not homme chauve-souris), but les Tortues Ninja, and, what surprised me most spider man, pronounced speeder man. Conversely it’s not speeder pig, but speeder cochon. All my colleagues know the text of speeder cochon (“Spider cochon, spider cochon, il peut marcher au plafond.”).

Every two weeks there’s a meeting where we discuss how the last two weeks went. You can write little post-it notes and drop them into a box and during the review everyone draws from the box and reads one. This week somebody drew spider pig and wrote down the lyrics and the person who drew the post it, sang the little song to us without a moment of hesitation. The other post-its were more work related.

The presidential elections are getting closer and the political discussion is heating up in France and even at work, where it’s usually more about football and nerdy stuff. There are even two (!) browser games: one published by camp Mélenchon, called Fiscal Kombat. You have to pick up people in suits and shake them until money falls out of their pocket. The other one is a troll directed at Fillon. It’s called Sauvons Fillon (Let’s save Fillon) and the goal is to help Fillon escaping justice by jumping over judges in his path.

On Friday morning I arrived at the office to find a colleague’s desk wrapped in shrink wrap.

The phone and the keyboard were wrapped individually and a mention of spider man was attached to it all. I was really surprised – it wasn’t any of my colleagues but rather a few people from upstairs.

This weekend is a long one – I don’t have to work on Easter Monday. Then Monday May 1 will be a holiday as well, as is May 8.

Pentecost, on the other hand, is a holiday, but we will be working. I was informed that it’s a day of solidarity for retired people. According to this article it all started in 2003, when a lot of people died in a unprecedented heat wave, most of them senior or handicapped. Since then people work on this day and their income for this day goes to the Caisse nationale de solidarité pour l’autonomie. The money is used to benefit retired and handicapped people. We still get a lot of bank holidays, so I’m not complaining.

France has pretty good social security, I think, but there are things that baffle me: I work 39 hours per week, not 35 and not 40 with 5 additional weeks of comp time, like Gergö does. I get paid for those 4 extra hours every week, though, and I’ve worked 40 hours before. What surprised me though is that in my first year of work I won’t get paid for any sick days if the sick leave is under a week (I think). I didn’t quite understand why at the time it was explained to me. I might still find out, should I catch anything worse than a cold.

I am entitled to 5 weeks of holidays, like in Austria. But two of those weeks will be in August when the whole company shuts down for two weeks. Since I acquire days off at a rate of 2 per month, I can’t take any time off until then – or I won’t have enough holidays for August. In theory I can take unpaid leave, but it’s not recommended. Because if I take unpaid leave I’m not actually employed and in the month concerned I would be employed fewer days and would only be entitled to holidays pro-rata, so fewer than 2 days. And I don’t even want to know what would happen to my insurance.

The company shutting down in August seems to annoy a lot of people, at least 3 people told me when I started letting me know how annoying that is. It doesn’t really bother me – Gergö can take time off whenever he wants. But I haven’t taken a holiday in high season in a long time. I might start complaining once I’ve seen the flight prices for August or when I have to wrestle German tourists for beach chairs.

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