Sunday, March 27, 2011

What It Means To Go Home

  1. Home is a many faceted place.  Friday, my grandmother went Home forever. Yesterday, I went home in a way, too.
  2. I had been told by my family that Gran Rose wasn't doing well, and that she would pass sometime this weekend. It was hard news, and sad news, but she had been suffering for so long that it was only selfish to wish otherwise for her.
  1. Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
    But His smile quickly drives it away;
    Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
    Can abide while we trust and obey.
  2. Saturday was the excursion to Normandy, where we visited the American cemetery. For about an hour, I was legally on American soil, I left France and returned to the jurisdiction of my home country. Even though the landscape and trees were still foreign, the cemetery itself was very American, American in the best sense, when she has her act together-- not sad or disarrayed, but noble, hopeful, and full of deep honor and respect for the sacrifice of her sons.
  3. The white crosses stretched out like flowers in a garden, going on and on. They were beautifully crafted and maintained, and the sorrow we wanted to feel for the sacrifice of so many men was balanced by a deep pride and sense of gratitude.
  1. Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
    But our toil He doth richly repay;
    Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
    But is blessed if we trust and obey.
  2. Knowing what I did about my grandmother, death's absence seemed especially clear to me. I believe in the promise God gives His children, that death is just the doorway to the Home He has prepared for them, and for my grandmother, this gives me comfort. For the young soldiers, though, many of whom were younger than me, that comfort fought with the anger and sadness that they never got to return to their earthly homes, to give a final kiss to their mothers and sisters, to play baseball, to see their children, to say goodbye.
  3. Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
    Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
    What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
    Never fear, only trust and obey.
  4. My grandmother passed away surrounded by family. It hurts that I couldn't be there, but I know that she loved me, and she knew that I loved her, and I have hope in where she is now.
  5. The D-Day soldiers passed away on the sand in a foreign country, sometimes near a friend, sometimes alone. Some were never found, and some were never identified. I hope they can take comfort in the inscription upon their tombs: Here rests in honored glory A comrade in arms Known but to God.
  6. Death can be a gentle release, and it can be a tragic tearing asunder of a life not finished, but at least however it comes, on the other side is Peace, and He welcomes us home.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Quelqu'un manque quelqu'un

The verb "to miss" is "manquer" (mahn-kay) in French. It's a really beautiful word.

In English, we say "I miss you," "He misses me," or "I miss how America has free, clean toilets." It's more of an emotion or state of being than a verb. But in French, "Tu me manques" (You me miss) really means "You are missing from me," like you would describe a piece missing from a puzzle.

At first, it's really really hard to say "My fiancé (is missing from) me" when I mean "I miss him," because it comes out of your mouth feeling like "He misses me," which I suspect is true, but cannot confirm solely by grammar. But once you get used to it, it has a much more melancholy, heart-twinging feel to say "She is missing from me" than "I miss her." It implies an absence, a hole. It's very tragic and romantic, and therefore very French.

Today, I went on a second (and probably final) French essayage of wedding dresses. It was very fun, like the time before, and I found a dress that was incredibly beautiful, unique, and bride-like. The attendant had me put it back on at the end to try on some accessoires, and she brought in a long, lace-trimmed veil and stuck it in the back of my bun.

I looked in the mirror, and instead of looking like a young lady trying on dresses much too old for her, I felt that I looked like a real bride for the first time, and I got a little hot around my eyes (humidity, probably). I said that I miss my mom (My mom, she is missing from me). I'm trying not to think about growing up, since it happens when I'm not paying attention, anyway.

In other news, if someone wants to donate 1500 euro to the Leah Carmical French Wedding Dress Fund, please do so before May. It'll be worth it! (for me!)

I didn't look so p'oed when I put it on. :)

PS: When I put on the dress, I loved everything about it, except that the lace had all these long bits poking around the end. I ask the attendant if the ticklish ends could be trimmed shorter if somebody ordered the dress. FAUX PAS. Apparently, the lace (Alencon, I think) is very, very specific, and one of the traits is the long, scruffy-looking ends. Trimming it is not done in France. She said that it could be done, but I think it's akin to asking someone to make you a pair of undies using the French flag. She was visibly uncomfortable. You would have thought I had asked her to line the gown with plastic.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Angers In Bloom

 Angers is absolutely lovely today; blue sky, low wind, warm sunshine. Hooray! To celebrate, I walked through my favorite park and accidentally doubled my grocery budget for the week. Oops. I'll be eating for 2 (or 4) until Monday.

the flowers here are beautiful, and the main streets are lined with blossoming white trees. it's very lovely.

Saturday, I saw this intriguing gentleman sloshing through Angers' big fountain. He was accompanied by about 15 costumed people in black, wearing yellow hearts on their chests and carrying a bullhorn. It was some sort of French coming-of-age Batman-themed ceremony, I think. Now, the tribe has accepted him as a full man, and he can smoke unfiltered Gauloises anywhere he pleases.

This Saturday is the CIDEF excursion to Normandy, my last school sponsored excursion for the semester. I can't wait to go, it should be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Concerning Hobbits

I was cooking in the kitchen just now, and I was crying for the fourth time today, over nothing in particular. I'm not homesick, I'm not over-stressed, and nothing bad has happened. I'm just in a serious funk, mostly over feeling so isolated, and because French people don't believe in ceiling lights in bedrooms, so when I'm in my room, I feel like a recluse.

I was weepy because I wanted to be with my best friends, I wanted a Sarah Sanders hug, I wanted to see my Mom and Dad, I wanted Zachary to not be so far away, I wanted to talk about faith issues with another (English speaking) Christian girl, and I wanted to not feel the next 3 months looming over me like a dark mountain.

About partway through my snuffles and a dirty omelet pan, my ears picked up this:
or at least what sounded like that... my favorite tune from Lord of the Rings,

and suddenly, the world was brighter. France is an adventure, I have to remind myself, and it's once in a lifetime.

I feel an awful lot like Frodo. I've spent my whole life pining for some sort of adventure, and now that it's upon me, I can't help but think of former comforts and want to put everything back the way it was. I have a new, incredible respect for soldiers. Though I will never be able to understand what they go through in battle, I now know a bit of what it's like to pack up and leave everything behind for what feels like ages and ages.

I'm trying to think less like Frodo and more like Sam Gamgee, focusing on what's to be done each day, and not what might go wrong, and not what I've left behind. I'm starting to feel more like Sam, anyway, after all the pastries I gobble.

Oh, you know, one more Frodo analogy: I, too, have a ring that I obsess over :3. Too bad it doesn't turn me invisible. Then I could sleep in Grammar class.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Worlds Beyond Worlds

click photos to enlarge

It's very strange to finish a vacation in Paris and my return destination is in France. That hit more than anything else that I'm really in Europe and yes, I'll be here for a while.

Warning in advance: this update is going to be long, because I have to fill you in on the whole week since Zack arrived and proposed (aiee!!!) to me. If you want to read highlights, they are as follows: FIANCÉS IN ANGERS. SPRINGTIME IN PARIS. LADIES AT VERSAILLES.

I'll sprinkle the post full of pictures so keep it from being an eyesore. Go get a glass of water and a thick cushion, and thanks for following!


After Saturday and Zachary's perfect proposal, we wandered around Angers and I showed him everything I love about my French town. Thank heaven he wasn't jet-lagged; I think the excitement of the engagement perked us both up a ton. After he got installed in the extra bedroom Mme Bouhet had very generously prepared for him, we went to take a few pictures of ourselves in the park he asked me at, and then we went out for a celebratory dinner at an Italian restaurant.

Zack ordered some sort of fantastic steak with a Gorgonzola sauce, and I ordered what I thought was beef. The waiter seemed surprised. TIP: If your waiter seems surprised in a French restaurant, ask him why. When he brought out Zack's manly, delicious meal, he put a thin plate in front of me that was covered with what appeared to be a pink base. Since he gave Zack two plates, I waited, thinking that he was going to come back with a steaming cut of dead cow on put on top of my plate. But all he came back with was a bowl of English green beans.

This isn't quite what my plate looked like, but this, carpaccio, is what I had ordered. It's a very, very thin cut of beef in lemon juice. Turns out, it's raw. It wasn't bad though, just squishy, and I ate all of it. Zachary felt bad for me, so he ordered me a chocolate mousse for dessert. 

Our poor waiter (and this would be the theme every time Zack and I ate out) wanted so badly for Zack to order everything. In fact, at really nice French restaurants, the waiter has separate menus for men and women, of which the latter has no prices on it. France is still very chivalrous, which is sweet, but Zack's French ends at "hello," "thank you," "sorry," and "good," sort of like everybody that tried to sell me a purse in Chinatown, so I did all the ordering.

In Angers, we saw the cathedral, the castle, stumbled upon an exotic car show (Ferrari, a few race cars, a few antiques) and market place, saw the sun set over the Maine, went out one night with Liana and Amy to celebrate our engagement, watched Winter's Bone (excellent), and ate like crazy, even though Zachary was under the weather for most of his visit, poor guy. While he was here, Liana took some gorgeous pictures of us in the Jardin de Mail.

On Wednesday, after I finished a Phonetics test, we hopped on a train for Paris. We were very excited.


I had reserved us rooms at the Regent Montmartre, a hostel with excellent views of the Sacre-Couer. Even though the hostel had wonderful perks like free maps of Paris, WIFI, breakfast, and a sweet location, hostel life is weird. There were hall bathrooms to deal with, older Middle-Eastern dudes who, when I asked if there were any other girls sleeping in room 21 (other than myself), replied that the dorm was "meexed!" and noisy Swedes running up and down the hall at 5:00 in the morning.
Zachary, who is a man of comforts (and private bathrooms), accommodated pretty well. I was proud of him, and I never had any problems with other hostel stayers, even after he left and I was a solo female (my friend Anna, who met me at the RM, didn't end up in the same dorm I was in).
I know that you know all about the famous attractions in Paris, so here's a list of what we did by day. I'll fill you in on specifics in a sec.

Wednesday evening: Arrived in Paris. Sorted out metro. Saw the Eiffel Tower at dusk. Had dinner (had a fantastic dish called escalope de villiers, some sort of Normandy dish with chicken in a cream sauce with rice. Zack had that old, delicious faithful steak au poivre). Saw Eiffel Tower at night. Got accosted by men from across the Mediterranean to buy 7 Eiffel Tower keychains for a euro. Did not go up the tower; the line was at least 3 hours. Finished by climbing to the top of Montmartre, where the Sacre-Couer is, for a nighttime view of Paris. It was breath-taking. There were lots of people at the top, too, so it felt safe. The big white church was like the moon, and you could see almost all of Paris for miles and miles (well, kilometers and kilometers)

Thursday: Turns out, you can pack a LOT of Paris into one day. We got up early to try to take the elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Mistake. The line was just as long. I think I saw some of the same Japanese tourists still huddled by the ticket booth, keeping warm by burning bundles of American dollars.

Instead, we did something that I think was probably a better deal. We went to the Arc de Triomphe, which you can climb to the top (free for me). The view was beautiful. After that-- walked down the Champs-Elysees, had lunch on that famous stretch, saw famous stores, saw lots of Roma (Gypsies), Place de la Concorde, the Obelisk, the Tuilleries Gardens, the Hotel des Invalides/Military Museum, saw the Louvre (these are places we saw from the outside, PS), the Pont Neuf, the Madeleine, the National Assembly, the Pont des Arts, the Notre Dame (I cannot tell you how unimpressed I was with the inside), the Palace of Justice.

That was all from about 9-4 or 5, and then we returned to our neighborhood of Montmartre to take a nap and rest our sausage-like feet. That night, we went out for a SWEET dinner at Chartiers, a restaurant that looks like it did during the belle epoque when it opened in 1896. It can hold 336 people, and if you're solo or a couple, like we were you're seated by other people. We ordered lots of very French food (for me, a pot au feu and baba au rhum for dessert) and Zack convinced me to let him buy a bottle of honest-to-goodness French champagne. I'm not a fan of alcohol, but I had to admit that it'd be a shame to leave France without ever having tried champagne. It was bubbly. 

On the way home, we got off the metro one stop early to see the Moulin Rouge and Pigalle. Hahahahahahamistake. It was cool seeing the Moulin Rouge (from the outside, I promise!), but if Zack and I had tried to walk down the same street individually, I think we would have been heavily solicited, if you catch my drift.

Which reminds me, there's a really annoying thing some street peddlers do at night in Paris. They'd come up to me and try to thrust a rose into my hands. I'm pretty sure that if you accept it, thinking it's a gift, they follow you and demand money. Zachary was very good at keeping them away from me. All in all, though, I felt that Paris was very safe if you avoid the obvious (side alleys and outlying banlieues/projects).

Alrighty. Before I move on to Friday, let me tell you about something that I think was the favorite of both Zack and me this trip. There's a bridge in Paris called the Pont des Arts (and another whose name I forget) that couples in love (and maybe friends, too) put love padlocks on. It's really sweet, and apparently a trend in a couple of famous places in Europe. I think it started in Poland. Anyhow, I just happened to come across a picture of the bridge a day before Zack arrived, and I had a small, silver lock with me. We wrote our initials on it and clipped to the bridge, overlooking the Seine towards the Notre Dame and the Ile de la Cite. It was very sweet, and Zack said that now we'll be in Paris forever. It was very Humphrey Bogart of him.

Friday: Friday was sad, because I had to take Zack back to CDG airport and say goodbye to him. I wish I could tell you that I was an adult about it, or at least that the goodbye was very romantic, but I sniveled like a baby and was a little snappy on the way to the airport. Zackie understood. I wasn't looking forward to returning home to Angers to spend the rest of March, April, May, and June without my fiancé. I'm still not looking forward to his absence, but it helps with a sparkling carat on my left hand.

I had planned to spend the whole day in the Louvre until my girlfriends Anna, Liana, and Amy arrived from Angers because it would be safe and I would be distracted, but I changed my plans on the subway and went to the Musée Cluny, a museum of medieval history built around an ancient Roman bath house. If you know me well enough, you know that I adore history. I made a good choice in going, because I was completely enamored, and especially swept away by the set of Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. I wouldn't have thought tapestries could be so beautiful, personal, and intriguing. 
I highly recommend the Cluny Museum, unless you know that you don't enjoy history. There were also a number of amazing reliquaries, including one that was a statue of Mary holding a baby Jesus, whose stomach was a glass window. Inside was, supposedly, the umbilical cord of Christ. I'm going to suspect that, like me, the Catholic Church has doubted the authenticity of this particular relic, or it wouldn't be in a case in a museum. In any event, it was fascinating and a little disturbing to look at a centuries old umbilical cord.

Post Musée Cluny, I strolled through the Jardin de Luxembourg, the Pantheon, and the Rodin Museum. Saw in these places the tombs of Voltaire, Rousseau, the Curies, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, the Thinker, the Embrace, the Gates of Hell, and beautiful art. I was a bigger fan of the scupltures of Rodin's mistress, Camille Claudel, though I think it's awful that everybody famous in France had a lady (or four) or man on the side.

The Pantheon was everything wrong with the State of France. Spirituality replaced by pride and patriotism, faith replaced by principles, artwork replaced by scaffolding (construction is a long-term thing here). It was housed in what was intended to be a beautiful church, converted in purpose by the leaders of the Revolution. It's still probably the most beautiful building in Paris, but it is very much a tomb, hollow and symbolic.

On the way to the Rodin Museum, I passed a Parisian wedding dress boutique. When I say Parisian, I mean Parisian. I thought "oh man.... that would be so nice." And then I remembered! I'm part of the club, now! So I went in and I flashed my ring, and they gave me a colossal white box with gold trim, vacuumed sealed in plastic. Inside were three books of 2011 Spring collections for brides, one for grooms, and one for bridesmaids. Unfortunately, they were too avant-garde, even for me, but some of them were incredibly beautiful. I might hang them on my walls.
The absolute best part of Friday was when I met Anna, Liana, and Amy at the Louvre. On Fridays, the Louvre is open until 10, and students are free after 6, so we went nuts. I cannot express to you how incredibly, incredibly impressed I was. You could take all the art out of the Louvre, and it would still be the most beautifully decorated palace in the world. Here's a brief list of what we saw in our short 3 hours there. If you want to follow the same path that we did, my drool stains will probably be around for a few more months.
Mona Lisa, Winged Victory of Samothrace, Venus de Milo, fantastic works by my favorite painter, Jacques-Louis David, like the Coronation of Napolean, Madame Récarnier, the Oath of the Horatii, lots of Da Vinci, countless beautiful paintings that have never been featured in my history books, and ancient artifacts that I've been reading about for years and finally got to see in person, like the Seated Scribe and the Tomb of the Etruscan Couple, and the Grande Odelisque. I could be in the Louvre all week, if I could somehow be the only person there. Amy thinks I should paint my ceilings like the Louvre's when I get married. I would if I could scrounge up some Renaissance ceiling-painters looking for work.



I am so sorry that the post is so long. If it makes you feel better, I'm on hour TWO of putting it together. Guess I enjoyed Paris more than I expected, though I vastly prefer living in Angers. After the Louvre, Anna and I went back to the Regent Montmartre to get up super early to head to the Palace of Versailles.

Versailles is, in a word, ornate. If I had two words, the second would be immense. I can't wrap my mind around why the French royals needed so much space. The amount of money they had is boggling. Versailles was beautiful, huge, and lovely, though only a small part of the Palace is open for touring, and much of the original pieces were destroyed or stolen during the Revolution.
Anna was responsible for planning the Versailles trip (for her birthday), and she made sure we caught an early RER line for the palace. The inside was beautiful (and packed full of Japanese tourists, who are quiet, but pushy), with every ceiling and wall absolutely covered with masterpieces of paintings, carvings, and fabric. Every single ceiling looked like the Sistine Chapel (if the Sistine Chapel was for Greek gods and ample bosoms), and there were many, many famous paintings that I hadn't expected to see there, like portraits of royals and the second copy of the Coronation of Napolean by Jaques-Louis David. It was almost two stories tall.

The gardens were lovely, but, I have to admit, boring. French gardens are immaculate and mathematical, but I prefer wild, unruly gardens. Maybe it would have been better in April. We saw the Grand Trianon, the Petite Trianon (decked out by Marie Antoinette), and Marie Antoinette's play hamlet. Unfortunately, my camera died soon after we left the main palace. I think that was good, though, because it allowed me to just enjoy the grounds and soak everything in.

When we were about to leave, we saw a bride and groom getting into rowboats on the Grand Canal with a professional photographer. The bride was wearing a lovely long dress with a white fur stole, and her groom was absolutely adorable, he looked so happy. I thought maybe they were just models, but the way he was smiling convinced me that they were a real couple. I said that I hoped I was that beautiful when I get married, and Liana told me that I would be. She's so sweet. My girlfriends here are being so supportive about my engagement, and it makes the absence of my State-side friends more bearable.

Anna and I left from Versailles straight to Angers, and we bought some chocolate from a Monoprix to ease the trip. I bought one that was labeled KIRSCH, which I thought was a brand. Turns out, it's liquor-flavored paint thinner. You could not eat it and drive a motor vehicle at home. Thank goodness I had bought a back up of milk chocolate. I ate it this morning for breakfast.

Now Clopinette and I are relaxing in bed from a busy weekend, and I'll probably spend the rest of the day in being a home-body, studying for tests this week, wishing Zachary could have stayed another month, and trying to finish my three euro, throat burning chocolate.
I love you! Thank you so much for making it this far, that's very, very generous of your time, and I appreciate it, I really do! Please let me know how you're doing, and I'll keep you in my prayers (and e-mails). All the best,

Angers, France

Sunday, March 6, 2011

je suis fiancée!

Zachary asked me to marry him! WORDLESS SQUEALS OF JOY!

Let me tell you about it! Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

I met Zackie at the train station and it was perfectly incredible to see him again. I thought I knew how much I missed him, but it didn't hit home until he wrapped me up in a big hug, and I thought I was going to bawl right there by the escalator. Luckily for us both, he wasn't tired or jet-lagged, and asked that we walk home instead of hire a taxi, and if we could stop in a pretty park along the way so he could 'give me a special letter."

Usually, I am on HIGH-ENGAGEMENT ALERT, and because of my Dad's antics throughout my childhood, I'm generally suspicious, but Zack had convinced me weeks and weeks ago that he just wouldn't be able to ask me to marry him in France because the trip + the ring would be too expensive.  I had resigned myself to the fact that I was going to be asked in America, a much less romantic venue.

We stopped in the Jardin des Plantes, my favorite garden in Angers, where there's a pond with swans, ducks, waterfall, etc.; marble and bronze sculptures, lots of benches, flowers, and lots of shade. Zachary asked that we find a private bench, and so we did, in a shady corner of the park. He hands me his letter, and it's very sweet about how much he's missed me, and then I realized that he was standing up. I mentioned that it might be nice for him to sit beside me while I read his letter, and he responded that he had sat down too much already. My H-E-A sirens started to beep faintly. Something was up.

The P.S. said "Turn the card over my love!" and so I did. "For the rest of the card, I need some interactive help. I need you to stop reading and look at me! I love you, Leah! Forever." And I look up, and there is my favorite man in the whole world, handsome and witty and smart-as-a-whip and caring and perfect, with a polished wooden box in his palm.

He got down on his knee, and he asked me. I'm not sure that I was coherent for a minute, I just kept saying "OHHHH! Baaaaaaaaby! Awww!" until he checked "So that's a yes?" To which I replied


The end. :3

Actually, not the end, because after he got situated chez Bouhet (Mme was super impressed with my ring), we went back to the park to take a few photos, made the engagement "facebook-official," I stared at my massive diamond non-stop, we went out for dinner at a delicious Italian place (which will be another story in itself), and came back to discover that all of our friends and family were showering us with love, well-wishes, and cheers.

I am so happy, and Zack is so happy, and I am so happy to see so many people supporting Zack and me. We mean the world to each other, and our loved ones mean the world to us, too. So thank you everybody, and wish us luck!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Zachary Arrives

In 19 hours, Zachary Hargrove will be arriving in the Angers-St. Laud train station, and I will be there to pick him up in my Sunday best. I am SO EXCITED. It will be incroyable to see somebody from home, and it will be parfait to see my sweetheart. He's so sweet to spend part of his Spring break on a cross-Atlantic flight followed by a nightmarish voyage through a foreign language train station just to see me.

I have to be careful not to say "I am so excited," "je suis si excitée" to my host family. The correct phrase is je suis enthousiaste. I won't tell you exactly what the first phrase translates as, because this is a family bog, but let's just say that my host family would get the wrong idea about Zack and me. Unfortunately, I have told them in previous weeks that very many things excite me, including: the Mont St. Michel, Normandy Beaches, the Saturday market, finding peanut butter at the grocery store, and January sales. They have been very kind in pretending like I hadn't said anything embarrassing.

I can't wait to show Zack everything I've fallen in love with in France, and I can't wait to see his reaction to things that surprised me, like public urinals and private driving schools, cheap bread and expensive water. Hopefully I can teach him a little French while he's here, and hopefully the weather will be lovely. Wish him luck!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

M. Melin

I think my favorite thing to see in Europe (I can generalize here) is where stone steps in castles and ancient churches have been worn into pathways by centuries of human feet. It's really beautiful to stop and think about.

Monsieur Melin is my most amusing (and most difficult) professor at CIDEF. He teaches my English-French translation class and looks a bit like Justin Beiber in 50 years, with snazzier ties. Obviously he's fluent in English, but he speaks it with a very heavy accident and a very interesting lilt, which I would pay money to be able to imitate.

I recently got an assignment back from him, on which the grade was 12.5 / 20. In America, I would have pooped my scholarly pants. That's a failing grade. But what was written on my paper? Assez-bien, pretty good. And it's not just that he was patting me, a lowly first-timer, on the back; French grading is incomprehensible to American --and Swedish, says my friend Ulrika-- minds.

Points are scored 20/20. That's not so unusual in itself; I've had 20/20 assignments before, in which I usually expect to get back a 17, 18, or 19. In other words, an A. In France, an A is 14/20. 10/20 or above is passing. A 15-16 out of 20 is an A ++. Professors do not, I repeat do not, give 19/20 or 20/20.  I had this explained to me by my Language prof., but M. Melin explained it much more colorfully:

Translated document
"If you get back a paperrrr wif zerrrro red marrrks, what weeel the note be?"
me: 20/20?
"Non! 16!"
me: *confounded*
"Twenteee out of twenteee, that eeez for God. Nineteeeeen out of twenteee, that eez for Jesus. Eighteeen out of twenteee, that eez for the Virgin Maryeee. And seventeeen out of twenteee, that eez for the professorrrr!"

So, even if I miraculously (perhaps Mary will tutor me) turn out a translated document that earns zero red marks, and has zero mistakes, the highest point value I can earn is a 16, by virtue of a) not having a diploma and b) not being a supreme being, professors being apparently closely related in this department.