I knew flying over an ocean to land--voila!--in my new destination was a mistake. One really must dive into these things--I should've swam. As it is, I am here and have hop, skip and jumped a whole ocean of language--verbs, adjectives, sentence construction & most importantly idioms. What I have learned so far:
1) When one is at the dinner table with one's family, and Maman tries to pass the veggies for the third time but one really and truly is just as stuffed as one could possibly be, one NEVER says "I'm full (je suis pleine)." This is rude. Judging by everyone's figures here, I can see that being full, or really being anything other than heroine-chic'ly thin is un grand faux pas. To let Maman know that you are just fine with the two portions of veggies you've already eaten, you say "Je finis" (I'm done). To me this sounds abrupt--but alas I guess when it comes to food us westerners are never quite finished.
2) I'm very excited to announce that tomorrow night I am going to my first apartment party (I don't even know whether these are quite Parisienne, but I'm excited either way). It should be a time, a good mixture of Americans and Frenchies not to mention Parisienne homosexuals, woo woo. In describing this 'tefe' (party) to my Maman, I asked her what the word for housewarming is en francais. She told me the word is 'pendaison de cremaillere', while doing a hanging motion about her neck. It's quite a mouthful of a phrase to begin with, much more so if one's saying it while choking to death. I didn't quite make the connection between such a morbid image and such a splendid night of fun. But I later learned that it was once fashionable to hang...a piece of rope (?) from the hearth of the fire place when one moved into a new place; thus, when the first dinner party was thrown, there was this hanging...thing--so there was a connection, albeit far removed.
3) And for the real kee-ck'er. Today in French class the professor was asking each of us what we planned to do with our weekends. For me, among other things--le tefe, un club du jazz, de vin--I want to check out a museum in my area. When I told the professor this, she asked me which one but I didn't know the name because it had been recommended to me by my Maman. So I told her, "Je ne sais pas; c'est le musee prefere de ma Maman." And she stopped me. What did I mean, my 'Maman'...did I mean, the lady who housed me? Because in that case I should probably try saying ... She continued on for two minutes, correcting mon erreur grave, telling me that saying 'ma Maman' suggested that I had been recommended the museum by a prostitute in a whore house. I could say instead, ma copine or ma femme (my girlfriend or my woman), but that in this case I meant, la femme qui m'heberge (the woman who houses me). So, in one fatal moment, I suggested to my professor that I either frequent whorehouses, or more likely am a lesbian.
Of course, during class I didn't fully understand her explanation of my linguistic mistake, so I laughed it off congenially.
One can only hope all the other students in the class were also busy drowning in the sea.