Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Seriously out of order....

February 11, 2005

Well, today is a lot better than yesterday was. And yesterday was on about a par with the day before. Only, because it was on the same lever, it was actually much worse, because it was the second day of crap. No, that doesn’t make sense to me either. Suffice it to say, yesterday was double crap and the day before it was single crap.

Today was much better though—probably because I am not going in to the IUFM. I’m on strike. Yeah, that is what I should do—Faire la Grève. Actually, all the students in France yesterday were on strike. There was going to be some change to the Bac—the big test the students have to take when they are 18—and the kids didn’t like it. So they went on strike. Not only that, but it worked. Last night, the Minister of Education announced that he was not going to make the changes. Vive la Grève!

So, another reason that today is so much better is because I got two letters—handwritten ones. I love technology and the Internet, but handwritten letters still have a special place in my heart. There is just something more personal about them than about e-mails. Not that I’m complaining about receiving e-mails—I love it all. One letter was from Amy Ensley, my cousin who is now living in Texas (but she is still way cool). She is pregnant and her baby is due April 9. It is a girl (which is what I guessed it was—way to go me! By the way, I also guessed that Sophie’s baby was a boy, and I was right. That’s two out of two.) The bad news is that she is thinking about calling the baby Abigail—which she ABSOLUTELY CANNOT DO! I already have TWO cousin Abigails—I can’t deal with a third one. The other baby name is Isabel, which I really like. It seems more powerful—it makes me think of hurricane Isabel, which knocked out Dad’s power for a week. According to Amy, the baby is a strong kicker, so Isabel is probably a better name. In fact, if she and Matt name the baby Abigail, I will probably just call her Isabel anyway. So there.

The other letter was from my friend Kelly, with whom I worked in the Writing Center at UMBC. (Any time I talk about the WC, I get all grammar and punctuation paranoid.) Kelly and I would get into rather in-depth conversation about grammar and punctuation and whatnot. I miss having these conversations. We also spoke about other things too, but there are not many people with whom one can discuss the difference between a gerund and a present participle—or the intricacies of the dash! Kelly is working in West Virginia now and she is not too happy with it. She mentioned something in her letter about College Park, which is the University of Maryland. I’m not sure if she applied for a job or graduate school there—I hope graduate school. That would have been cool if I had gotten to apply too. Then we would have seen each other there. Oh well. I will eventually make it to Graduate school. Eventually. One day. In the future.

Speaking about the future, I had a job interview this morning. In English. (whew. Job interviews are tricky enough in one’s maternal language. Can you imagine having to do one in a different language? Eww, how awful would that be?) Anyway, I think it went well. The woman told me that she was definitely interested in me. The main problem is with the visa situation. She told me I should just marry a Frenchman and get an EU passport. Anyway, I need to look into that more. She is worried that, if she emplyes an American, she will have to pay lots of money for the visa. The other problem is that she would not be able to employ me full time. But I think I would be able to do some one-on-one teaching to pick up some extra money.

I am not going to think about all this now. I have a vacation that starts tomorrow. I am going to forget about all of it, then deal with it when I get back. I think that is a very good plan—the best plan.

Your intrepid reporter,

March 4, 2005

Well, I went into the kitchen to have dinner and found everyone (minus the Brit—heaven knows that she would never, ever be involved in something like this) watching the most awful Euro-trash program on television. It was one of those singing-dancing-joking spectacles that only exist on the continent. There is absolutely nothing like it in the States. The other assistants were watching, rapt. It was like the Far Side cartoon where the Maestro dies and goes to hell, which turns out to be a room full of banjo players. I obviously can’t leave these guys alone with the television. I should have re-eduated them months ago—where was my head? I just assumed that, since they weren’t French, they wouldn’t be susceptible to the plague of Euro-trash TV.

But I shouldn’t be too surprised—they all think that I can sing. Ha! What I can do is merely a parlor trick. I can fool folks into thinking that I can sing because I can carry a tune, I always stay within my vocal range (that means no SSB), and I know when to stop (the most important).


I can’t believe that my stay in France is almost over. I finish with the IUFM on March 31 and I have to be out of the country by April 15. Wow. I am excited about going back and seeing my family, but I am really going to hate leaving everyone. Even if I stayed, though, it just wouldn’t be the same without all the other assistants. Half the time when I look at plane tickets, I am looking at the first possible date. The other half I am looking at the 15th of April… I don’t know if I want to stay or go.

I have, at least, decided what to do about my future. I spoke to Mom about it the other day. I am going to apply to Salisbury for a MA in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). They offer an assistantship which, if I can get it, would cover my tuition and give me some extra money (not much, but Mom says I can live with her, so… Boom-a-rang Baby strikes again!) While I am in Salisbury, I am going to apply to the Graduate school at UMCP (University of Maryland at College Park). I want to transfer there to complete the MA TESOL and work on (at the same time. Remember, this is me we are talking about here) MA in English. UMCP is, from what little I know, a decent school. The MA in TESOL should help me find a job… and it will be something that I’ve tried and I know that I like. The MA in English will help me feel that I am actually getting an education. I mean, lets face it, the classes for the MA TESOL look pretty dismal. The classes for the MA in English, on the other hand, look pretty cool. Also, UMCP has a strong music program… which I can become involved in during my, um, free time. (This is in addition to the French, German, and Latin classes that I plan on taking. Oh, and all the exercise classes that I will take so I can get in shape…)

But we will see. UMCP might not even want me. If they don’t, I can stay at Salisbury… if Mom doesn’t kick me out or murder me after a couple of months. (If she did, it would probably be over Iggy, Mom’s, um, cat thingie.)

Well, gonna watch another episode of Alias. Sidney’s mom just escaped with Sloane and Sark and Emily was shot after going to the CIA and wearing a wire.

March 6, 2005

There is an expression in Maryland: “Don’t like the weather? Stick around.” As true and appropriate it is for the weather in Maryland, it might fit Valence even better. The weather here is, quite frankly, insane. Today, for example. When I woke up there were giant, fluffy snowflakes drifting down from the sky. It looked like I was inside a washing machine that someone had put way too much soap in. About five minutes later (the time it took for me to fill the electric kettle, wash a teacup, and pour boiling water over a bag of English Breakfast tea) not only had the snow stopped, but the clouds had completely cleared off and the sun was shining. About half an hour later (the time it took for me to run the water in the shower to get it to warm up, brush my teeth, hop in the shower, and get dressed) it was gray and cloudy again, and the snow was small and wet, falling as quickly as if it were rain. At this time Jo came up for a quick chat. I offered her a cupa (which she declined, having just come from the kitchen and a very large breakfast). When she left, about an hour later, the snow had stopped and the cloud cover was disappearing. This has been going on since yesterday, when I woke up to (again) giant fluffy snowflakes cascading down from the heavens. When I started this paragraph it was snowing like mad. Now the sun is starting to come out. My only explanation is that, because the wind blows so much and so hard here, it must be blowing weather in and out more quickly than normal.

Alias: Sindey found out that Will was innocent (which she knew all along) and that Francine was the double. She killed Francine, then woke up in China where she discovered that she had been missing two years and that Vaughn had gotten married (actually it was less than two years. I can’t believe that Vaghn got married. I mean, I saw it coming as far as the plot line was concerned, but realistically it is so… um, unrealistic. I mean, where is the period of mourning? Not to mention the “never going to date again” period, the “never going to fall in love again” period, and the “she was my true love and I will never find another like her” period. Then he would have had to meet someone, have her break through his emotional barriers (which, if he really thought Sidney was dead, should have taken years), decide that he can learn to love again, propose, and plan a wedding (which just by itself would take well over a year—and believe me, I know). So this is a giant suspension of disbelief that the show is requiring of its viewers. (Ok, than there is the fact that Sidney worked as a double agent, made it through grad school, and speaks at least Russian, German, French, Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic fluently—plus some others that I’ve forgotten about. But that is still more reaslitic than planning a wedding in under a year…) So, yeah, those are just my thoughts on all that. Go watch the first two seasons if you want to know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, GOOOD NEEEWS: Mom’s proposal defense went totally kick-ass. I finally called G & G up today (Granny and Grandpa—maternal grandparents) to see if they had heard anything about it all. Grandpa read me the e-mail that Mom had sent them. The folks on her committee were saying that it was the best dissertation to come out of GW and that it was amazing work. Well, duh.

I knew that the proposal technically should go well, but I was nervous about how Mom’s advisor would behave. That man is, I’m convinced, about this close to being Bi-Polar (He’s an ex-Marine. How can sane can he possibly be anyway?). Sometimes when Mom gives him something he acts like it is the best thing he has ever seen, and sometimes he acts like it is complete crap. There have been a few times where I have wanted to go in and have a little “chat” with this dude. But maybe things will be better. Sounds like Mom won’t have to do too much work to finish this thing off—I hope that she is able to finish with GW really soon now.

You know, if Mom had done this PhD thing when she was younger, she might have become a leader in the field of accounting. Then again, it might be her added years of experience that make her work so much better. As it is, I think she is still more interested in teaching than in research and becoming really important and (relatively speaking) famous. Funny thing is, there are probably people who would give their left nut to have thought of and done what she has done—people to whom research and fame is really important. And for Mom it’s not. She did what she did mostly because when she does something, she does it as well as she possibly can. That is what makes this whole thing just that much cooler. Yea, mommy.

I am probably going to go back to the states on April 12. Wow, that is so close. (Now the sun isn’t shining any more. Looks like it is going to start snowing again. By the way, none of the snow has actually accumulated on the ground. What a weird, um, city-town Valence is. Weird, weird, weird…

March 7, 2005

Okay, it is snowing again. Well, it was when I last looked out the window. Then again, that was about thirty minutes ago so I’m sure it has stopped by now. I’m sure the sun has not started shining though—it is 9:38 in the evening. I am listening to a cd that Mom sent to me—I’m not sure what it is. I think I like it, but this is only the first time I’ve listened to it so I will need to listen a couple of times before I make up my mind.

I know that I’ve bitched a lot about the IUFM in this blog. I think I sometimes give folks that I am not having a good time here—really, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I am already feeling nostalgic about my time here. On one hand I want to go home and see everyone and on the other hand I am not ready to leave yet. But I know that if I were to stay it wouldn’t not be the same—part of what I really like about my experience is that I am surrounded by wonderful (mostly) people. And even the one that sometimes gives us all problems, well, under it all I do like her—I just don’t have any illusions about her. But I suppose that, in the end, she is as crazy as the rest of us.

I have started buying gifts for people. I am trying to think about how I will get everything back. I am going to be leaving a lot of stuff here in France. Some of it I will be mailing back. I may mail my clothes and carry my books with me on the airplane… how’s that for priorities?

I want to try to get to Venise before I leave for the US. I am trying to figure out when I can go and how I can get there. Pain in the ass—as bad as the French train site is, the Italian one is so much worse. I can’t even check prices or reserve tickets on their site. Anyway, I imagine the Italians are none too pleased with the Americans right now… I suppose those swarthy Italian types look just like swarthy Middle Eastern types to the Average US soldier.

Anyway, I did mean to go down to Nimes this weekend but… it was windy and snowing. That happens to me just about every weekend I plan on doing something. I should just plan on not doing anything and see what the weather is like.

Every time I go someplace new I get a map. Then, when I get back to my room, I put the map up on the wall. My walls have so many different maps on them now—I should get a picture just before I go.

Oh, I found a postcard with Snape (Alan Rickman) on it. I put it up right over my bed, mostly to freak Jo out if she notices it (she thinks that it is creepy that I think A. Rickman is hot. We got into this conversation again last night because Tom Cruise was on television. Neither of us think he is all that, and I, naturally, brought up Alan Rickman as the pinnacle of sexiness—mostly to freak her out. It worked.) So yeah, she probably won’t notice it. I haven’t seen too much of her recently—she has other things going on. If you are reading this, Jo, hi! I went shopping today.

Ugh, another exciting and joy filled day at the IUFM tomorrow. Yea. Ack.

Oh, by the way, there is another strike tomorrow. And the teachers are going back on strike Thursday. Vive la grève!

10:15 pm
Hm. Did I mention that I lost my rug? I had a nice little rug that I kept next to my bed. Well, it had become a breeding ground for dust bunnies (they must be Mormon) so I set it on my windowsill for, like, three seconds. I was at the sink washing my hands (the bunnies were hippie, patchouli-wearing Mormons so they were a little, um, filthy) and I noticed something flapping away like a giant albatross. Yup. That was my rug. This was during the school day so there were, like, zillions of little pigmy French kids running around outside. I don’t think my rug actually got any of them (damn) but I was too embarrassed to run down the three flights of stairs to retrieve the thing. (Actually, the three flights of stairs is a bigger part of the equation than the embarrassment). Sooo, so much for my rug.

Oh. And remind me to tell you guys all about my adventures getting from Berlin, Germany to Valence, France.


At 10:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As usual, mom & dad exaggerate. It's not the best dissertation at GW, just the best proposal that some of the junior people have seen (and they haven't seen many!).

Still, it's good to feel like I'm moving forward.



Post a Comment

<< Home