A week ago we had 'un orage', a thunderstorm. It was not particularly long or violent but there was one brilliant flash. It was enough to send our little, brown dog scrambling for shelter and our big, white dog managed to levitate a good two feet off the floor in response. It was also enough to knock out our phone/internet connection. Not the neighborhood's; just ours. It apparently was a selective storm designed by a higher authority to challenge my verbal skills. I now had to call France Telecom and explain, in French, what had happened. Of all the language trials an expat faces, phone calls are the absolute worst. I can't see the face of the person I am speaking to and they can't see all of the eloquent hand gestures I'm frantically making to help them understand. No matter how much time and effort go into preparing for the call 'they' always ask the one question I haven't prepared an answer for. It is always something incredibly simple that ends up stumping me. This time they were asking me if I had my modem 'connected'. I couldn't believe that they would think I was so stupid as to not plug the damn thing in so I assumed I didn't understand correctly. What followed was a tragicomedy of errors and shouting. I did, eventually, get everything fixed – and it only took a week. Whenever I think I have even the slightest grasp of the language something comes along to slap me back into a proper, humble position. In Andorra, I once confidently asked the grocer for a dozen Thursday's (Jueves) rather than a dozen eggs (huevos – h and j sound alike). I left without the eggs and with a renewed determination to study my Spanish – so next time I could tell that shopkeeper to be a little kinder to people who are trying to learn.