Sunday, February 20, 2005


I am in Switzerland now. Everything here is super expensive. Not only that, but the keyboard is different from the French one AND the ENglish one. What the hell is up with that?

Thursday, February 10, 2005


I think I am developing a French IUFM ulcer. This place could definitely make one suicidal. Or, more likely, homicidal. Yeah, I think homicidal is closer to the situation here.

Breathe. See, I need a vacation. I need a really, really, really long, nice, warm, sunshiney vacation. Do you suppose they have beaches in Berlin? ; )

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


This is my Mom's funny Romeo story. Romeo is her lard-ass cat. He is totally pathetic (and slightly loveable).

So yesterday, I had two loads of stuff to unload
from the trunk of the
car. The backseat was still split half
down/half up from the ski trip
at Christmas.

Right after the second load was up, you called.
After that, I caught
the weather report (winter storm today, but it
looks like it's going
north of us), read, watched some TV, talked to
Ken from SAlisbury, and
surfed the net.

Till bedtime. I went up to the bedroom and
noticed an absence--Romeo.
Generally, he's perched in the middle of my bed
(the warmest place in
the house) unless he hears food rattling around.

Hmmm. YOu know, I hadn't seen him since I came

Looked under the bed--no Romeo. Went up to the
loft, his second favorite
place to stay--no Romeo.

OK, now a conversation I had ran through my
mind. While at the grocery
store, I had run into Mark, my next door
neighbor. He mentioned that
he'd noticed my door open and had closed it for
me. I thanked him
--couldn't get a real sense of WHEN this had
happened-Mark is
delightful, but there's more than a little old
hippy about him. Time
seems irrelevant to him--and told him that I'd
added some
weatherstripping to the door, and it was hard to
get completely closed.

So he might have gotten outside. I checked the
deck. No Romeo, and as
we'd had some snow, I could see that there
weren't any catpaw tracks.
Checked the front--no Romeo.

Well, maybe he had sneaked into the garage
somehow and hid. I went to
the garage. No Romeo. I heard a miaow, but Iggy
was at the door, trying
to get into the garage.

Made the entire round again, a little more
frantic. Bedrooms. No. under
the beds. No. Loft. No. Closets. No. Deck. No
footprints. Front. No.
Garage again. Wait. There's miaowing, but it's
muffled. what the fuck????

Then I saw him. In the car.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Looking up at the Baslilica in Lyon. Posted by Hello

View of Lyon. Posted by Hello

Notre-Dame Basilica. It was totally gaudy inside. I tried to get pictures, but it was way too dark. Posted by Hello

Roman Ampitheatre. Posted by Hello

Roman ampitheatre. Posted by Hello

Roman ruins. They make medieval buildings seem so... unimpressively modern. Posted by Hello

Lyon is famous for its Punch and Judy puppets here. Of course, they call it something different. Something French-sounding. Posted by Hello

Notre-Dame Basilica in Lyon. The hill was a long, steep climb. I am still sore. Posted by Hello

February 8, 2005

The last 'blog entry ends a little abruptly. I was tired. In fact, I can't even remember if I went down to the kitchen to have dinner Sunday night. Probably not, because I had skipped the Argentinean thing that day and I most likely had no desire to deal with a raving Argentinean. C'est la vie.

Wow, I am all of a sudden so busy. This is, like, crazy man. Anyway, here are some pictures from Lyon. I will post more later. Maybe after my whirlwind tour through Alsace, Switzerland, and Germany. Damn.

February 6, 2005

I am totally exhausted and it is all for you, my adoring public. You see, I figured you all might want some new pictures to look at. So I woke up this morning and hopped a train to Vienne. Then, once the train reached Vienne, I looked out the window, went ehhhh, and stayed on until Lyon. So here are some pictures of Lyon.

And I am sure you all want to know why I was not at the Argentinean festival with the others. Well, turns out Natalia invited me, but she was meeting some people in Grenoble to give her a ride there and she didn’t know how I was going to get there. How’s that for thinking ahead. Luckily I found all this out last night before I woke up butt-crack early and took a needless train ride to Grenoble. So I slept in a bit, drank some tea, exercised some, took a shower, then hauled ass to the train station.

Even though I had already visited Lyon, there were several places I didn’t get to see. These places were actually all at the top of a very steep hill. The funicular to the top wasn’t running (not that I would have paid the 3 Euros for it anyway) so I had to cart myself (and my very heavy bag full of tourist guide books) up. But it was worth it. And I have the pictures to prove it.

Anyway, maybe the best part of the day was when I walked out of the train station and saw a MALL! I went in and because it was Sunday all the stores were closed. But no matter—there was a pizza place open. I looked at the menu and they had a pizza with mozerella cheese! (All the pizzas down here are made with Emmental… swiss cheese. It is really nasty). I was so happy that I went in and spent 10 Euros for lunch (it was expensive but it was well worth it). I even got the salad buffet. Anyway, I kind of had America flash-backs… you know, with the buffet and all. There were even fat people there—and a couple of fat kids for good measure! I treated myself to a soda, cut my little pizza into slices, and inhaled it.

February 5, 2005

I am in the kitchen right now, waiting for Natalia. We are going to watch a movie on my laptop. Of course, she had to call her boyfriend, so now I am waiting. She said it would only take a half hour, but I figure it will take way longer than that—especially as she sounds like she is pissed off right now. Oh well. Anyway, it is one of her movies that she borrowed from a student. She thinks the movies are too scary to watch alone, so she has enlisted the help of all the other assistants (including the laptop of one of the assistants—me) to watch this movie with her. But I don’t want to be up to late tonight. There is an Argentinian festival that I want to go to tomorrow with the other assistants, and I want to wake up early enough that I can exercise and if I am up too late… blagh.

Oh well.

Anyway, January is the big sale month in France. Okay, so it is not January anymore, but the sales are only now starting to wind down. Dagmar and I went to the shops today and I found a nice tank-top that was only 7 Euros. I also bought a necklace for 3,50 Euros (that is three and a half, but they don’t use decimal points here—they use commas. So a number like US 3,000,000.00 would look like this in France: 3.000.000,00 How crazy is that?) Anyway, while we were downtown we saw a protest march. It was—surpprise, surprise!—another strike. In the past month there have been at least eight major stikes. The one today was quite interesting. It was a parade down the main street of Valence with people shouting and waving banners. I think it was another hospital worker strike. Vive la grève!

Anyway, nothing really interesting is going on now. I am excited about the upcoming trip to Strasbourg. Oh, and maybe I didn’t write about that. If I have, just skip this next part. If I haven’t, here it is: I am going up to Strasbourg with Dagmar on the 14th of February. We are going to stay there for four nights. After that, I am going to go to Basel in Switzerland and stay there for two nights. Then I fly out to Berlin and stay there for… actually, I don’t know how many nights I am there. But I do have it written down somewhere so don’t worry. After that I fly down to Nice, where I may or may not stay a few days, depending on how tired I am after all that traveling. Do you know that the French word for work is travaille. I think that may mean something.

Speaking of work, the job search front is still the same. I made a bunch of phone calls yesterday and I have a meeting with a French company next Friday. The woman doesn’t know if she even needs to hire anyone and if she did, it would only be for part time, but it would be a start. Actually, the main reason I am going tomorrow is because Natalia told me that there was an English speaker who works in Grenoble who was going to be there. I figure I can introduce myself and see if she knows of anything. I hope she is there. If she is not, I am going to be worlds annoyed.

Oh! And I was talking to Dad the other night and he mentioned that I was starting to pick up some British-isms. I’m indifferent about that, but I found it interesting. But of course I would pick up British-isms… I am around more Brits than Americans here. There are other Americans here, but I don’t have a cell phone so I never call them and they never call me, and I see Jo all the time.

February 4, 2005

Well, got to speak to Granny and Grandpa last night (maternal grandparents—the one who sent me the package) and they were fine. We had a nice little conversation. Then I gave Dad a call at one of his many different telephone numbers (I swear I have nine numbers. I always try to guess the right one and I am always wrong). Anyway, I was wrong this time too. The guy at the other end tried to find Dad’s current number and asked who I was. I explained that I was the elder daughter and that I was calling from France, at which point the guy said, “Oh. Actually, his office is just across the hall. Why don’t I just go get him?” Yes, please do. So I had a nice conversation with my Dad. He just got back from Japan and was pretty tired still. We talked about cats and relatives (but not actually in that order) and I told him that one of my options for the future was getting a Masters in TESOL from Salisbury University. I bemoaned the fact that I would have to write an admissions essay, something that I had managed to avoid up to now. Dad suggested that I just print off my ‘blog and send it to them. Yeah, a sixty page admissions essay. Then again, the idea does have certain merits—my avoiding any actual work being the main one. But I think that this ‘blog would do more damage than good, especially when read in connection with an application for a TEACHING degree involving the ENGLISH LANGUAGE. (That language which I have managed to mangle countless times in said ‘blog.) But hell, I may send it to them anyway, just for shits and giggles.

Anyway, I was calling last night from the Butter girl’s room, so when folks asked questions about her I was unable to answer. As I said in my last ‘blog (or, as I think I said, being as how I am too lazy to scroll up and check) things are calmed down between us. This being her decision, not mine. I have been the same steady, slightly obnoxious, French mangeler. She is the one who has been all friendly. Anyway, I don’t know if it will last or not. Probably not. It does seem to help that we both have more work to do at the IUFM. It also makes us allies against a common enemy (though I’m slightly uncomfortable with that. Not that I think she’s a back stabber, but I know for sure that she will automatically look out for number one if worse comes to worse).

Anyway, the SUV photo contest is over. I don’t know who won, I will figure it out later. I gave my class and convinced the students that SUVs are evil (which they knew) and that a lot of Americans drive SUVs (which they knew) and that SUVs are ugly (which, again, they knew). So I was pretty much just a useless blathering fixture in the front of the classroom. It’s always nice to feel needed.

Oh! I forgot to write about the boring people! So, anyway, for the conversation hours I usually just speak with people about whatever (makes since, right? I mean, it’s a con-ver-sa-tion hour). These two girls always come together and it is always just them. Their English is not really good, but it is really no worse than some of the other students’. The main difference is that these girls don’t even attempt to speak. In the first five minutes with them I asked them about movies. They don’t really watch movies. Ok, what about books? Had they read Harry Potter? No. And they don’t really read much. Hmm, music. What type of music do they like? Well, they don’t really listen to music either. Art! This being France, the self-designated center of all things cultural, surely they have an opinion on art. Um, no. They don’t like art or museums. Fine. What about travel? Where have they gone? After all, things in Europe are pretty close together and travel can be very inexpensive. And of course, neither of them has traveled. In fact, neither of them has even been in an airplane. Fuck. At this point I am five minutes into the hour and ready to claw my eyes out in desperation. I tried to explain to them that conversation is a two-way process here, that this is not an hour of Deirdre monologue, but that had no effect. Nada. Rien. Fine. I have decided that next time I see them (next week. Yea.) I am going to make them play games. Conversation games. The lamer, the better. I’ll make ‘em talk.

Ok, so I am definitely NOT sending this ‘blog to Salisbury. After that last paragraph, they would be convinced beyond a doubt that I am unsuitable for teacher-hood. In fact, they would probably put me on the teacher blacklist, along with the homosexuals, atheists, and liberals. Blah.

February 3, 2005

Yeah! I received an envelope from my Grandparents today. They sent me some pictures and also a cd that they had recorded—30 minutes of Grandparent-speak. I heard all about Sally’s Christmas party and the weather in the Midwest and the trout fishing trip. That may not sound too interesting, but I enjoyed every bit of it. Of course, they waited until the end to ask me to not play it to anyone… ummm, I guess I’m out of the will now. See, I was in the kitchen when I go the envelope so (naturally) the first thing I did was rip it open and (naturally) when I saw it was a cd, the first thing I did was pop it into my computer to have a quick listen. Well, Jo, the Brit, happened to be there as well so she heard a little bit of it. Completely contrary to what I would have expected, she loved the accent! Not only that, but she was world’s impressed by the fact that my Grandfather had recorded on a cd. I told her about the other things that my Grandfather had done with the computer—copying records to cds, working with digital cameras, scanning and printing—and she was even more impressed. I didn’t even get a chance to tell her about all the other things my Grandfather does: making musical instruments, repairing and fixing up what-nots, making paring knives (which he has been doing a lot of, according to the recording. I think he said that he’s made about 40), and all sorts of other impressing things. So yeah, my Grandparents are cool.

Also in the envelope were some pictures of Sally’s Christmas party. It was really great to see the pictures. I showed them off to Jo and some of the students at the IUFM and everyone’s comment was about the size of my family. I was like, “oh hell, this isn’t even half of it. This is just a teeny, tiny portion.”

Anyway, everyone has been telling me how amusing and funny (and sometimes colorful) my travel ‘blog is. A couple of people have told me that they want to print off the whole thing to read. Bother. Now I have all this pressure to compose humorous material. Yeck. I have nothing funny to write about.

The wind is still really strong. It gets worse at nighttime. There is still a bruit overhead. SuperMarco (the guy who does repairs here) told me that it was the window, but as I don’t have a skylight, I don’t think it is. I am convinced that it is something on the roof. I have been looking for a door or something that will give me access to the roof so I can go up there and fix it myself. Of course, batîment C being constructed the way it is, I have no idea where I would find such a door. The good news is that, if I ever find it, I probably have a key that would open it.

Work is continuing to pick up at the IUFM. I still don’t have a list of my students. In fact, one of the English teachers asked me for a list! I have been keeping busy, though, with what I hope are my students. Next Monday I am presenting a class on American Music. I am going to talk about Zydeco, Bluegrass, Jazz, Blues, Country, Ragtime, Dixieland, and Motown. I have also been finding songs that I can play to represent each genre. I hope they find it more interesting than the American Gun Control lesson that Ariane (the English teacher) wanted me to do.

In fact, since no one seems to be watching me too closely (or even aware that I exist), I have made some significant changes to my topics. Ariane wanted me to do a series of lessons on American stereotypes. But everyone already knows the stereotypes and, let’s face it, most of them are true. I would rather try to present some of the good things about America that never actually make it across the big pond. The Big Lebowaski, for example. (Actually, I don’t think that would go over well in France anyway. But I use it to represent all the good things that do exist in the States.)

The students are supposed to prepare a 3 to 5 minute presentation on some aspect of Anglophone culture. I am encouraging them to pick topics from countries other than the US. This is because I am going to be grading them (by the way, the evaluation sheet is in French. Oh joy) and I don’t want to be bored out of my mind during the presentation.

I am also considering making my lesson on American literature mandatory. If a student doesn’t come, he or she will have to read a book by Faulkner and write a report on it. I think it is a good idea.

March is looming and I still don’t know what I am going to do. Airplane tickets are currently insanely expensive so I may just have to stay in France whether I wanted to or not. Le sigh.

Oh! And I forgot to talk about the best part of the Bal Folk that I went to a couple of weeks ago! While Jean-something was teaching Jo and me some dances, Christine came in and asked if I knew the “aoaouieeii” (or, at least that is what it sounded like in French). I replied that I was not familiar with this dance and she was quite surprised. She informed me that it was a very popular dance in the United States. She then taught us the dance and we went through it a couple of times (un-deux-trois-quatre-cinq-six-sept-huit) counting in French. She then put on some music and we tried the dance to the music. About halfway through the song it occurred to me that I was learning a country line dance, in France, counting the steps in French, and listening to Shania Twain (a Canadian). It was a surreal situation. I tried to explain the humor to the others, but I suppose my French was not good enough to communicate the nuances of it all. Oh well.

Well, I haven’t had any problems with Butter Girl recently (of course, as soon as I drag my ass the five kilometers to the kitchen I know there is going to be some big issue). But anyway, she has been all smiles and friendly. She gives me big bisous each time she sees me and each time we part (bisous are the French cheek kissy things. Or, as I call them sometimes, bijoux, which means jewelry. But hey, it sounds the same. Mostly).

February 2, 2005

Okay, that’s better. Gotta make sure I have the right date. Now that I have gone to all that effort—you know, hitting the enter key several times to create blank spaces—I am going to brush my teeth and go to bed. I am serious, though, about those people being boring. Maybe I will write a little bit at a time just to try and get through it. I guess it could be kinda funny. Well, we shall see.

February 1, 2005

Happy first day of February! I just put all my previous France travel logs on one word document and it is 58 pages long. Wow, I have pretty much written a book. Too bad it is so crappy. This is why I will never try to make my living as a writer—no one should be forced to read the drivel that drips from my brain.

I met with the two most boring people in the world today. In fact, they were so boring that just thinking about it makes me want to go to sleep. Then again, it could just be the fact that it is after midnight. Whoops…