Monday, September 27, 2004

in grenoble

wacky keyboard. have a place to live at a lycee in valence. staying at a youth hostel right now. making friends. more assistants from different countries arriving every day. have orientation tomorrow. think its in french--know its in french. going to sit next to person who is really good at french.

more later.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Airports and chopped hair.

And here I am, in the Roanoke, Virginia airport. My flight leaves at 5pm and it is now 1pm. Why am I here so early? Well, Mom has to teach a couple of classes so she had to drive me up here early. Luckily, the airport has Wi-Fi internet access. I should have absolutely no problems keeping myself entertained for four more hours.

I made the mistake of having a complete stranger cut my hair the day before a major life change. She butchered it. Her idea was to do more layering so my very, very baby-fine hair would look fuller. Nice idea, in theory. My flat hair has remained just that--flat. But now it looks... ummm... ratty? It looks like a nice shirt that has been used as a chew blanket by a puppy.

Oh, and the airport lady agreed with me that my passport photo was the worst she's ever seen. She wanted to know if I'd lost weight since it was taken. Nope. Maybe five pounds, but not enough to explain why I look like a trailer park hippo in the photo. I wonder if Ripley's Believe it or Not and/or the Guinness book have openings for the world's worst passport photo. Honestly, I'm concerned that some overly-cautious security person is not going to accept it. If that happens in Europe, I'll probably have to pull a "That was me in my fat American days. Since I've been in Europe, I look and feel better" That should solve the problem while contributing to civic pride and encouraging stereo-typing of Americans. Not an ideal solution, if I am acting as an ambassador to my country, but in that situation this fat American has to watch her own ass!

Monday, September 20, 2004

New verb.

I propose that American be used as a verb. For example, when I arrive in Paris I am going to American my way through security. Then, when I get to the train station, I'm going to American my way around until someone helps me--in English. You all know what I'm talking about, right? It's all very "kidding on the square," as Al Franken would say.

I am not getting sick. I'm just having an extreme physical reaction to all the stress. Or so I keep telling myself. Not sick. Not sick. Perfectly healthy.

I watched Richard III the day before yesterday. It was the Sir L. Olivier version, you know, where he plays R3 with "smoldering sexuality." It was pretty hot, until I read my trusty Norton, which said that R3, as Shakespeare created him, is a classic example of a sociopathic rapist. Ick and ick again. Still, it was a very interesting play. R3 is just such an amazing creation--for better or worse. Although less dramatic, I think I prefer the Josephine Tey version of R3 in _Daughter of Time_. Reading her book made me almost join the Richard the Third Anti-Defamation Society (yes, it exists. Found it on the internet. I bet there's also a R3 anti-defecation society too, but I'm not so interested in that one.) But now I am remov'ed from my books.

Day and a half before I fly out for Gay Paris. Do you know, I think I was guillotined in a past life. When I read _A Tale of Two Cities_ (which, just for the record, I didn't like) I absolutely felt the approaching dread of the trip to the head-chopper-off-er. "'Tis a far greater thing" etc, etc.

Anyways, this trip does not fill me with dread--if anyone was wondering. It was just the idea of an approaching event and the mention of Paris that reminded my of Mme G.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Pandora, my cat. She is as soft as a rabbit--and as nervous as one. I'm leaving her in Maryland with my Dad because I think a big trip might cause her little kitty heart to give out. Posted by Hello

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Shit shit shit.

Well, I think I don't have a plane ticket yet. How can I not know? Well, I used the internet to reserve a flight, then faxed my credit card info to some place in Texas. I just looked at my account and the amount for the plane ticket has not been taken out. So tomorrow I'm calling Texas to see what the Hell is up. I'm flying out next Wednesday come Hell or Ivan. I've already flown over one hurricane--I can make it two.

I am so freaked out about all this. I keep reminding myself that my mom went through something similar when she was about my age. Only she had a one-year-old (me) and it was the first time she'd even flown. So this is nothing compared to that, right?

Now I feel like I need to clean the house because I've invited everyone over for a last good-bye. I promised myself that I would not guilt myself into cleaning, but... I looked at the floor and saw cat fur tumble weeds drifting by--and I just cleaned last Friday! How can everything get so damn fuzzy in a week?

I already know that I'm planning on bringing too much stuff. I will just have to wait until I get down to Mom's so I can thin everything out. I just don't know how much crap I can stuff into her suitcase. Probably a lot, but I don't want things to be too heavy.

Headache--literally. I've had one for the past week. And allergies.

I think I will call it an early night and go turn in and read. I read Hardy (Return of the Native) and Updike (Rabbit Run) back to back and that was a bit much, so I've since then read The Jungle Book, The Westing Game, The Amazing Maurice and his Talented Rodents, The Breaker, and Hard Sell. Right now I'm reading Mercycle. Yeah, I know that most of it is crap, but after Updike...! I may try Updike again someday--and not another Rabbit book--but right now I've got no use for him. The Rabbit books can be used as toilet paper for all I care. I did start to read Point Counter Point, but I decided that it was a bit too much for me right now. I need the literary equivalent of cotton candy right now. Oh, and I watched the Kevin Kline-Callista Flockhart-Michelle Ph. version of Midsummer Night's Dream. Not too bad. I liked the balding Puck. And Kline was a good Bottom, though his American accent surrounded by British accents was a little odd. Callista was an odd casting choice--not too sure I liked her but the role was pretty fluffy so I guess it doesn't matter. But I know fuck all about Shakespeare and film.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

St George, Grenada before hurrican Ivan. Notice the Roman Catholic Church in the middle of the shot. Posted by Hello

St George, Grenada after Ivan. Notice the Roman Catholic Church. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Getting ready for France

I got my Visa on Monday. I only got sent out to get something once. I was expecting at least one mistake on my application, and sure enough, I was right. My passport photo was not right. The guy behind the plastic wall sent me to find a place that takes passport photos. The CVS that he sent me to didn't have a working machine, so I had to drive around looking for a place. I finally found a Kodak store. I told the guys working there that I needed photos for the French Embassy. He took a decent picture (Well, it was, I suppose pretty bad, but after my original passport photo, my standards have been lowered drastically) and I trotted on back to the embassy. All in all, pretty painless.

When I went to the consulate to have the French copy of my birth certificate notarized, however, things didn't go so well. The lady took a look and the original and the copy and informed me that I had to translate the whole thing, even the useless paragraph at the top. My French is pretty damn bad, especially when I can't even understand the thing in English, so a self-done translation is out of the question. I sent a copy to my former French teacher and asked her to help me. Poor teacher--she had no idea what she was getting into when she helped me with my application to teach in France!

Today I went to my bank to get a letter reporting how much I have in my account. The lady printing off the letter told me a cheerful story about how a 15 year old girl in her church died when she went to France. I wanted to cry.

I know that I've got things pretty well prepared, but that doesn't stop me from feeling frantic. I can't believe that I'm doing this--that I will be in France in a week and a couple of days. It feels so sudden.


Sunday, September 12, 2004

Dad returns from Grenada

Dad is home! I was so glad to see him. He and some other guests at the Flamboyant Hotel chartered a flight to Barbados. He then managed to get on a flight to Philly, then flew down to Baltimore. He said he lost five pounds after the hurricane because the guests at the hotel were rationing their food. And that's even with eating the MREs that someone from the US government dropped off for everyone.

Dad got some pictures of the hotel and the surrounding area. He bent his camera so all the pictures have a black upper left corner. I don't even know if he brought back anything or if the hurricane destroyed it all--I totally forgot to ask.

This is the outside of the building we stayed in. The hotel was situated on a hill above Grand Anse Bay and was divided into cottages with two floors. Dad and my room is the furthest to the left. Except for a small section near the door, the entire roof was ripped up. The walkway that leads to the door was what Dad jumped down to get to the floor below to find some shelter. Posted by Hello

This is the picture I took of the room just before I left Grenada. Posted by Hello

This is the room after Hurricane Ivan passed through. Notice the natural light coming in from where the ceiling used to be. Posted by Hello

This is the sink that Dad curled up under trying to get some protection from Hurricane Ivan. Posted by Hello

Friday, September 10, 2004


An obsessive-compulsive My Little Pony and Justice League fan:

Saint George, Grenada after Hurricane Ivan came through on Tuesday, September 7, 2004. Posted by Hello

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Grenada and Hurricane Ivan

I probably have some of the last pictures taken of Grenada before Hurrican Ivan came through and destroyed everything. I was in Grenada with my dad from Saturday, August 28, 2004 to Saturday, September 4, 2004. My dad was going to stay a few days longer and return on Tuesday, September 7, 2004. Instead, all flights on tuesday were grounded as a category three hurricane nailed Grenada. The eye of the hurricane passed over the southern part of the island--right where my dad was staying. While it was halfway over Grenada, Hurrican Ivan went from a category three to a category four.

The island has been totally destroyed. Just about every building is missing at least a roof and possible two or more walls. The Prime Minister's residence was flattened. The main prison on the island was destroyed and all the prisoners--including the leaders of the 1983 coup--escaped. Groups of machete-wielding men have been looting stores. The British Royal Navy sent a ship--the HMS Richmond--to help keep control.

I spoke to my dad this morning and he was fine. He had tried to ride the hurricane out in the hotel room. Unfortunately, the room was on the top floor of one of the hotel buildings. As he was cowering under the sink, he heard a loud grinding noise. It was the wind ripping roof from the building. During a lull in the storm, he jumped off the balcony to the next floor down and pounded on their door. Luckily there was someone there who let him in.

On Wednesday he decided to walk down to the store. As he went down the hill, he saw a group of people running away from the grocery store. They told him that police were throwing tear gas into the store to stop the looters. He decided to give the store a pass and went back to the hotel. He said that everyone was camped out in the lobby and that there had been a steady stream of people all day because the Flamboyant Hotel had one of the few working land lines.

I can't believe that I was just in Grenada--that I left three days before this hurricane hit. Anyway, I suggest a couple seconds of secular silence for Grenada. It will be years before the island is able to get back on track. Its main export is nutmeg and most of the trees have been destroyed. Its main industry is tourism and I doubt that people are going to be able to/want to visit the island for a long time. Pretty much everyone I met while I was in Grenada depended on tourism as the main means of income. I don't know what they will all do now.

This is a view of the Flamboyant Hotel from the Grand Anse Beach. The hotel is the group of white buildings with red roofs. THis picture was taken September 4,2004. Posted by Hello

This is a view of Saint George, Grenada from across the Carenage. Picture taken on August 30, 2004. Posted by Hello

This is a view of Saint George, the main city in Granada. Again, this is the view from my hotel room. This picture was taken the 28 of August in 2004. Posted by Hello

Grand Anse Bay in Grenada on Saturday, August 28, 2004. This is the view from my balcony on the Flamboyant Hotel. Posted by Hello