Tuesday, February 08, 2005

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).


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