Learning Français the Marc Jacobs way

Secret de succes: Stay in the present.

It only took a week, but I’ve finally figured out which way my New Year’s Resolutions will be “trending” in 2012.

Faithful readers might recall that I was considering two paths: The pile-your-plate-so-high-you-can-barely-see-over-it method, à la The Happiness Project, and the lean and mean, keep it simple Zen Habits approach.

And the winner is: Zen Habits.

Not by a landslide, mind you; I seriously considered creating a Happiness Project, and even got so far as to create a profile on the website.

But then my head started to explode thinking of just how I would wedge in all that self-improvement alongside a huge work project I’ve committed to for the first half of the year.

Who knows? Maybe when I wrap the paid gig, I’ll get Happy. I’m already lower-case happy, so the next step is probably to get upper-case Happy.

Right now though, I feel better knowing I’m narrowing the field to just five interests: Meditating, cooking, knitting, de-cluttering and Frenching.

Okay, so maybe five interests / rezzies  is still a lot, but I don’t intend to drive myself nuts by attaching any particular time-frame or hyper-specific goals to them. Not yet anyway. Plus, I can stretch stuff out over the course of the year if I want. For instance, when it’s like 1000 degrees outside in July and August, I expect to be knitting up a storm because I won’t be working. While the Wee Lass is crafting her little heart out at day camp,  I hope to be taking classes at Purl SoHo.

And I’ve re-discovered a very cute way to improve my French.

Mid-career, when I ditched magazine-ville to toil at the biggest beauty company in the world, my boss (le patron) insisted I take oodles of classes at Berlitz so that I could become “business proficient” in French. I don’t know that I ever achieved that, but I did start writing all my emails in French, and I could certainly make my way around Paris when I went there for projects (les projets).

Still, I remember climbing the walls at Berlitz because there were soooooooo many tenses to learn. Oh my lordy. Passé composé, l’imparfait, le subjonctif, etc., etc. Many was the time when I thought to myself, “If only I just had to learn one tense instead of like eight million. Such joy that would bring me.”

Flashforward to me reading the festive Marc Jacobs profile in this month’s Vogue. A good chunk of it took place in his Louis Vuitton workrooms in Parigi, and I totally loved the description of him rolling around on a wheely desk chair from outfit to outfit, puffing on a ciggy and instructing his staffers to move a pin over here, slide a ruffle over there.

Of course, a lot of those atelier staffers are French. And here’s how the American design god communicates with them in their native langue: Only in present tense! How cute is that? He has a basic vocabulary of fashion terms, and he doesn’t bother to eff around with any of this l’imparfait or subjonctif nonsense.

Yes, I know, it isn’t nonsense; there’s a reason for all those godforsaken tenses. But just really mastering one feels super Zen Habits to me. And super 2012.

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