Friday, January 07, 2005

December 29-January 3

December 29, 2004

Back in France now. I think I’ve caught some kind of stomach bug—I feel pretty icky. All I had to eat yesterday was a loaf of bread and some butter so I made myself get out today and go to Flunch for some meat and veggies. Flunch is great—you buy a tiny little piece of meat and think you’ve gotten ripped off. But then you get to go and eat as many veggies as you want. I had fish, mashed potatoes, rice, and brussel sprouts. It is all pretty close to a “typical American meal”. I always go to Flunch when I feel down or sick.

I’m not happy about being sick right now. I still have several days of vacation and I was going to leave tomorrow to visit some other places in France. Now I really don’t even feel like getting out of bed. Yeck. I have laundry that I need to do… and I need to prep for the class next Monday. I really don’t expect many people to show up—it is the first day back from vacation.

Eating Ginger Chews now to see it they will settle my stomach. I wonder if it is something that I picked up in Morocco—I did eat a meal in a street tent near the end of my stay.

I really should give more details about Morocco. I was thinking about taking a train to Casablanca and Rabat but I would have had to go by myself and I felt a little too uncomfortable for that. I stayed the entire time in Marrakech. I went out on my own a few times, and even though I stayed in the tourist areas, I did feel a little uncomfortable. I mean, a young, blond woman all alone—I stood out like a sore thumb. I never had any real major problems, but I definitely encountered some smaller issues… mostly fighting off would-be guides, henna ladies, shopkeepers, and the odd man who wanted to kiss me. I had, in general, a very interesting reaction when I told people that I was from the US. I expected people to become cold after that or launch into a discussion about the US government’s relationship with Israel but none of that happened. Instead, people would break out into a big smile and treat me as if we were two people in on a big secret. Then they would name either states, cities, or actors to prove that they were experts in American culture. In the airport, when I passed through security to board the plane, the guard glanced at the outside of my passport briefly, broke out into a big grin, and said something completely incomprehensible. I finally figured out that he was saying “Arnold Schwartzenegger, Governor.” I smiled back at him, and said, “Yeah, Schwartzenegger is governor of California” and he let me pass.

So, I visited three palaces, one Museum, a Medersa (religious school), and several gardens. Oh, and the souks. I took pictures of several Mosques, but the doors were closed to infidels like me. I figure, though, that considering what the palaces and Medersa looked like inside, the Mosques must have been splendid.

December 30, 2004

I’m sick. I feel like I’m dying.

December 31, 2004

Happy New Year. I’m still sick. Of course, every occurrence here is an opportunity to increase my French vocabulary and I now know the words for flu, pain, fever, vomit (verb and noun), diarrhea, chicken noodle soup, and dehydrated. I also know how to say, “take one pill every four hours. Do no exceed six per day.” All highly useful, let me assure you.

The Bitch of it all is that I am here alone. All of the other assistants are gone and the school is shut up tight. Even the creepy night watchman is not here. Yesterday I was sure that the world would come back to a stinky pile of dead Deirdre. I was wondering just how long it would be before they discovered me. I think it would be next Friday (January 7) at the earliest.

I wonder if I cough under the Argentinian’s door if she will get the flu.

January 1, 2005

Hullo and Happy New Year. I’m feeling much better today. I did a little bit of laundry and picking up this afternoon. I just got off the phone with Shari and Rob—I’m in a good mood now. They are moving to their new place in February—I’m going to miss helping out with yet another move (not the reason I’m happy, actually. The missing out on helping with moving is a running gag.)

Well, as it is the first day of a new year I have to start giving some thought to what I am going to do after March. Just yesterday I realized that I should probably go ahead and get at least a Master’s degree. I need to (yet again) have my paper degree catch up with my… not intelligence and not knowledge, but maybe potential is the right word. I know that this statement may seem very conceited, especially as I have not expressed myself very well. And it is not to belittle the process of obtaining a Masters. It is just that, for a brief moment yesterday I forgot that I didn’t have a Master’s yet. When I remembered again, I felt odd. Like I was slightly off balance—potential on one side and lack of paper on the other. Then again, it could have been the cold medication.

But, blah. How boring for you all to read when I still have stories about Morocco!

January 2, 2005

The sky over Valence can’t quite figure out what it wants to do. It spit out about three drops of rain then tried to turn blue. It’s like rips in gray silk where the blue shows through—completely unnatural looking. One could be tempted to go up there with gray thread and mend the patches.

I think I overdid it a bit yesterday—feeling a little rugged today. Not as bad as I was a couple of days ago, but still not up to snuff. I think I am going to confine myself to my bad today—a few naps should help me along my way. Then again, I’ve slept so much the past few days that my body is not too keen in the idea of more sleep.

Wound up talking to the radiator last night. It was making odd grumbling noises and I was sympathizing with it, telling it that it had probably caught my bug and was now having stomach troubles. Poor thing. It really must be feeling under the weather—when I got up this afternoon it was only slightly warm. I suppose it doesn’t help that I’ve draped my laundry—socks and underwear—over it to dry.

I decided to go to Flunch last night. I figured I could take a bus down, get some food into my system, and take a bus back. It is normally within walking distance, but I was feeling a little weak. I knew that it was the first of the year, but I figured a low-end restaurant like Flunch would be open. It is generally one of the few things open on Sunday—it seemed a safe bet.

My first sign of potential problems should have been that the busses weren’t running—not even on the Sunday schedule. I wound up walking, slowly and unsteadily, down to the center of town. When I got there, the windows of Flunch were dark. Europeans generally have a different idea of adequate lighting, but this was pitch black. Damn.

I decided to stroll (or in my case, stumble with frequent stops) through town to see if anything was open. I figured that, if worse came to worse, I could always hit Micky-Ds (I’ve decided that the sole purpose of McDonalds in France is to keep Americans alive by maintaining normal business hours). I didn’t really want to do it—I figured it would set the stomach back several days in the healing process—but a Big Mac with fries was preferable to a French pizza with Emmenthal cheese (which turns my stomach even when I’m not sick).

It was so Twilight zone last night. Keep in mind that this was 7pm on a Saturday night in the pedestrian center of town. Everything was shut up and dark. Okay, that is to be expected. It is, after all, France. Even the cafes and sandwich shops were shut. There were several abandoned Christmas trees lying around. I occasionally saw a group of young males lurking in the shadows, huddled together and speaking in low voices. At one point I saw an unattended toddler throwing M&Ms off a fourth story balcony. I felt like I was in a science fiction movie—one of the post-nuclear-holocaust ones where everything has just been left and most of the people are dead.

I finally did find a restaurant and ate a salad, salmon, and some pasta. I’m always surprised to find salmon on the menu—I never really thought of the French Alps as being Salmon territory. Then I remind myself that I am only about two hours from the Mediterranean (slow train) and four hours from the Atlantic (fast train).


Just spent a couple of minutes going through some old school papers that I have on my laptop. I wanted to read the one about Deconstructionism and Sherlock Holmes. I found that, but I also looked at some other papers from my Lit Crit class. Interesting. I remember how completely lost I felt in that class. But going back and reading my response papers, I think I understood a lot more than I gave myself credit for. And a lot of the ideas, even the ones I don’t agree with, have stuck inside my head.

Anyway, this is all in preparation for reading _The Fountainhead_. When I spoke to Shari last night she said that she was halfway through it so now I have to catch up. I think I am going to try to find a way to set up either a discussion board or another ‘blog with the intention of discussing books. I know that, with _The Fountainhead_, I would certainly love to have Dad make some comments on philosophy. I know nothing about philo—and care even less. I will be approaching _Fountainhead_ from a more literary standpoint. I would also like to get some input from Mom about laissez-faire capitalism since I’ve totally forgotten the ten minutes we spent on it in High School. (Laissez from the French verb Laisser, meaning roughly “leave it” or “let go of it” or “set it down” conjugated in either second person formal or second person plural. Faire the infinitive French verb meaning “to do” or “to make”. And that’s without looking it up, thankyouverymuch.) Ahh, if only I could get Aunt Margaret on the Internet. What intelligent input she would have for me… sigh. By the way, has anyone heard from her? I would have expected a card or letter from her by now.

Well, enough procrastinating. Time to take one of those naps.

January 3, 2005

Well, back to… school. Actually, I do have a class today. I am going to be discussing the American School System. I plan on sitting there are looking tired and sick so the students will feel sorry for me and not notice the lack of preparation. Then again, this being France, I’m sure what I’ve done is already more than the norm.

I feel crappy again. I knew this was going to happen—it was why I was trying to make myself take it easy yesterday. I’m thinking I should probably get myself to a doctor.


Life is just not good. I am at the IUFM right now. “Pas d’Acces Internet ce matin.” English translation: No Internet—your guess is as good as ours when it will be up again. (Okay, literal translation is: No Internet this morning. But this is, after all, France.) I was looking forward to posting pictures of Morocco on my ‘blog, but now I have two and a half hours to kill before my class. There is a couch down in the teacher’s room; I may go take a nap. It would certainly be quieter than it is in my room.

Human bodies are funny things. I am really, really tired, but my body seizes up and starts to ache if I even think about lying down in my bed. Give it a good, hard table, though, or a lumpy couch in a room of French smokers and it is ready to sleep. I miss all the napping places that can be found on a college campus. UMBC had some choice sites depending on what type of nap you wanted. My favorite was the warm, dry, huddled, and protected nap in the library. I would take two of the high-backed armchairs, push them together, kick off my shoes, then curl up on the seats. It was like being in a tiny cocoon. It was perfect for cold and rainy days—or sick days. (There was also the drooling nap in a low-back library arm-chair; the “I’m-really-working” nap, which was head first into a book on a table; the slightly awake nap in the Fine Arts building, stretched out on one of the very, very old benches; and any number of other naps that I just didn’t have the time to discover. And before you go thinking about how very lazy I must have been through college, let me remind you that I took almost twice a normal course load and was very close to a 4.0 GPA. So I earned my naps.)


At 10:40 AM, Blogger STAG said...

You will find Ayn Rand to be seductive. What she says in "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged" seems so logical that it tends to make you want to just expand upon it. Beware this tendency....the reason why her ideas are so seductive is because she is a fantastic writer...and capable of making ANY philosophy interesting, exciting, and understandable. I was bitten with the Rand bug when I was in High School....when I followed it up, I discovered that Randians tend to be almost religious in their fervor, and take "Randism" to extremes. Anything taken to extremes is dumb.


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