Where Angels Fear to Tread. The red sign says "off limits to the public". That didn't stop Mom from wandering into the junk shop's entrails. I shouted for her to come out and, when she did, she looked up at those angels, shook her head.
bousculer (boo-skoo-lay) verb
: to jostle, push, shove; to bump into or against; to rush, hurry up
to shake or liven up
Bousculer les habitudes, c'est encore le meilleur moyen de faire évoluer les choses. Shaking up one's habits...is still the best way to make things happen. --Cyrille Guimard
A Day in a French Life...
by Kristin Espinasse
In less than two weeks Mom will return home to Mexico. Of all her coming and goings, this visit has been the least eventful (apart from Le Big Fry): no riding to Marseilles, weekly, in an ambulance, no standing in the soup line (and getting chewed out by her "stickler-for-rules" daughter), no pilfering through the local poubelles for Secret Garden lawn furniture, no running away from her hostess-daughter's home, in Saint Maximin (...and again in Les Arcs....).
If my unruly Mom's larger-than-life ways are shrinking, her mind and her dreams aren't following suit. She has places to go and gypsies to see and why, darling daughter, are you so serious all the time? Follow me!
I leave you now with a story from the archives. Meantime, off to see what Mom is up to....
June 7th, 2006...
Four days from now, life as I know it will be bousculée* when a certain character takes up summer residence chez nous.* You may remember her as the one whose shirt shot up when the French cancérologue,* using his elementary English, and in a thick accent, asked to see her teef...
"TEETH!" I cried to my mom, tugging her blouse back down. "He wants to see your teeth!"
What, you might ask, was a cancer specialist doing examining your mom's teeth? Bref:*
In the summer of 2003, my mom was at the Paoli-Calmettes* cancer institute in Marseilles for a mastectomy, but what she really wanted was a few new teeth. It had been years (ten? fifteen?) since she had set foot in a doctor's office and she was making up for lost time. There was her hip (the broken one, and the reason for her séjour* in France), and the teeth that she herself had pulled back in Mexico (you know, the littlish ones to the side of the side of the side of the two front ones). In a nutshell, her most recent visit rocked my world and, just when things are getting calmed down again, the woman with the flamboyant feather in her hat is returning.
It isn't the sum of a few more malentendus* that will soon shake up my quotidien,* but one starry-eyed survivor who, by her breath, will be a constant reminder to part from my tree-hugging ways, to venture out to the end of the limb and consider the view from the tip of an unsteady branch. Only from that perspective can one understand that baring a few cancerous teefs* in life is no big deal, the important thing is to trust, to take the instructions facing you and follow them even when you can't speak the language or understand the outcome, to know people will step in to help, if you will but let them. The rest doesn't really matter much and the lesson is always the same: it is better to bare your soul than to sit clenching your teef.*
References: bousculé(e) = shaken up; chez nous = at our place; le/la cancérologue (m.f.) = cancer specialist; bref = in brief, to make a long story short; Paoli-Calmettes = cancer institute in Marseilles; le séjour (m) = stay; le malentendu (m) = misunderstanding; le quotidien (m) = everyday life, routine; teef = (made up word for 'le sein' = breast); teef = (from the doctor's slurred English, for "teeth")
Terms and Expressions:
le bouscueil = debacle
la bousculade = jostle, scuffle, rush
se bousculer = to get a move on
Conjugation: je bouscule, tu bouscules, il/elle bouscule, nous bousculons, vous bousculez, ils/elles bousculent => past participle: bousculé
French synonyms for bousculer: bouleverser (to overturn), culbuter (to knock over), heurter (to knock against), pousser (to push) (but also to grow...), secouer (to shake)
A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.
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