Monday, February 28, 2011

Classes, Cats and Kiwis

HOW COOL IS THIS GUYS: classes open to the public, free of charge, in Paris! The one I'm linking to is the one I'm going to try to go to. Unfortunately, I have a stupid stupid stupid doctor's appointment at the time of the first class tomorrow. But I may not have to go to the appointment. Will find out! In any case I think I can drop in after that day anyway. Hopefully it's not too hard to follow, or a teeny tiny class where everyone snaps their heads around to glare French daggers at me when they realize I'm an interloper.

I love having a cat around more than you know. More than you know. And some of you know how much I love cats. (It's kind of alarming.)

It's official, the school district has told me I am not allowed to get a second job — the classic "ce n'est pas possible" — and, surtout, ne prenez pas un autre poste. Basically: don't even think about it. ...well. I'm thinking about it, and I'm thinking about it good. Babysitting is the world's favorite under-the-table go-to, and I'm absolutely thinking about it. Unfortunately, I can only do nights and weekends. But French parents must go out during the week, right?

More French names for animals: Kiki, Titi, or, hilariously, to the fluffy black (female) cat named Tommy: ma grosse, which I like to translate as "fatty."

French people, I've noticed, seem keen on peeling foods that the Americans I know usually love eating with the skin on — apples, potatoes, cheese with a crust... Also, I realized with shame that in the past year I have had my first shrimp-peeling and kiwi-peeling experiences. Do you peel a kiwi? Or is a more fitting term to hack in futility at the sides of that consumer-unfriendly fruit until you've lost most of it in the fight? Better to cut it in half and eat it with a spoon.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


As usual, I allowed a blog post to mysteriously capture my utterly dramatic mood, instead of waiting till I felt better to properly explain. It's true that my first five months here have made me see France negatively. I always have to count on my fingers to see how long I've been here, and the number five surprises me while also seeming to weigh me down. A lot of emotions have marched their way through my heart the past month or two, many of them not my favorites. I think I'll stay vague and just use this as an outlet to let everyone - myself included - know that I'm taking it a day at a time. Some moments, I dread everything about my life here, from the dreary bus ride to making food to going back to classes on Monday. But I've taken to assessing my feelings on a moment-to-moment basis. And sometimes it's ok not to feel awesome. I just say to myself, "Ok. I'm not feeling great right now." And move on. More often that that, though, I've been remarking to myself when I feel ok: "All right. I feel ok right now." I don't feel great, but I think that will come in time. With all the self-therapy, a little outreach, and a lot of fake-it-till-you-make-it smiling into mirrors and underneath scarves.

And, with any luck, spring will finally show its lackadaisical face (seriously, spring! get your lazy butt into gear) and the scarf will be gone, and the smile will be real.

Friday, February 25, 2011


I'm back in France and I do not want to be here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Laconic Blogging

  • About those interviews I mentioned: let's not talk about it. Not in a bad way, it's just not part of my life anymore.
  • Planning a weekend away in Amsterdam for next month. It might rain, but I'm going to account for that in my plans.
  • NYU friend visiting France next month, too.
  • Bought tickets to see Taylor Swift on March 17.
  • Gonna start some projects to make my final months in France more enjoyable.
  • Feeling alone sucks. I blame the godforsaken cold months.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

February Break

It appears that it is not always sunny in California.

Things I have done since I got home on Sunday:
  • eaten at Denny's haha
  • bought American candy to bring back to the students in my English club
  • driven
  • gone to a Boyce Avenue concert with friends!
  • stressed out majorly about future jobs and being an adult with debt (this action currently in progress)
  • experienced a crazy rainstorm!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"I thought you were French."

"I thought you were French when I first met you! When I heard you talk, I just thought you were a nice little Parisian girl who had her Parisian life here! Then, when I heard you speak English, I thought, 'Wow, she's really good at English... wait a second...'"

Music to my ears. The version of me that's on Cloud 9 right now is thinking, Well, I've reached my goal. Now I can finish the rest of my days not trying at all and eating pains au chocolat aux amandes (chocolate pastry with almonds, my current drug of choice - seriously, those things pack a caloric punch, it is not good for my heart or blood sugar). There is literally nowhere left to progress to if I've convinced a French person I was French!

The other me is simply pleased and triumphant and especially eager to have more amazing dinner conversations with my Japanese teacher and the only other student of the original six who remains.

In other news, work is the stupidest thing, as usual. Please note: not complaining, because, hey, money. But seriously, allofmycomplaintscondensedintoasingleword!!! Ah that feels better.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

On Teaching and Recentness

This post does a nice job of giving teachers and teachers-to-be a reality check: Things I've Learned From Teaching. I particularly like the point about how you have to just be prepared and go in and do your job, and it's not your fault if the kids aren't into it that day or whatever. Sometimes that can be rough but it's part of the job.

  • News about some interviews is around the bend.
  • I've been reading lots! (In English.)
  • Enjoying getting to know the good eggs of France that I've managed to meet.
  • Never been to so many doctors and free health clinics in my life! I secretly love it because it means I'm getting taken care of.
  • Coming home in just four days. Can't wait to run in the California winter weather. (Then again, I haven't been home for February in five years.)
  • Went for a run in the park today and it felt good. Sometimes I expect all my woes and troubles to flow out of me with my breath, but of course it doesn't happen like that. It does, however, happen in a more subtle, psychic release sort of way.
  • I'm so lucky to have found this host "mom" I'm staying with. Hearing about her life and everything she's been through makes me realize just how much bad stuff may lie ahead, but I feel solidarity with her and everyone else who has been through rough times, because the pain of my own is so recent. She's a very vibrant person and I like her outlook on life now that she's retrieved peace and has restarted the happiness cycle.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sick Luck, This Weekend, and Photos

I am pretty sure I have strep throat. The only scientific proof of this I have includes: the intensely torturous sensation I get every single time I swallow (it's driving me crazy), a swollen lymph node approximately the size of a ping-pong ball, and the very alarming fact that I am up at 5 in the morning because I went to bed at 10.

Someone in the universe really doesn't want me to be having a good time in France - I was just sick with bronchitis (or something like it) barely three weeks ago, and I got sick within my first month here with a cold.

But I'm optimistic - maybe bitterly so - because! I get to go HOME in less than two weeks. I am counting down the days (11) and relishing in an abridged work schedule as we near my departure date. Next week is the "Bac Blanc," or fake baccalaureat exams, at the high school, so about 5 of my 12 hours have been canceled. Plus I think I'm going to indulge and call in sick tomorrow.

Some stuff I've been doing lately includes seeing the movie Le Nom des gens (People's Names) with a fellow assistant on Friday. It was really good to hang out with her and chat about life and relationships. She's also in a long-distance relationship while she's here, but she's engaged to the guy, and they've been dating for seven years! This fact impresses me every time I think of it. Anyway, the movie was a very unconventional love story, and inspired some deep thoughts about the roots we own by embracing our names and the culture behind them. Even though I may not quite know everything about the culture of my name, I am still proud of the background it represents.

Fast-forward from multicultural adventure to being one of maybe two nonwhite ethnicities in a room of 200+ on Saturday, when I went to a farcical band concert with an English teacher from my school and her boyfriend. This was the teacher who hosted me and Michael when I was unceremoniously ushered out of my previous accommodation. I was honestly surprised by how few ethnicities were represented in the audience and band; it reminded me of going to a school play in New Hampshire once, where everyone is white... These sorts of occurrences are odd to me, considering information like this: More Young Americans Identify as Mixed Race. The concert was ok, and it was nice to see a wind ensemble again. The farcical part involved lots of funny little sketches to accompany or precede the pieces, which included Peter and the Wolf, the Nightmare Before Christmas suite, a song called "The Drunken Sailor," etc.

Earlier on Saturday I went to Breakfast in America with my Dutch friend who went back to the Netherlands on Monday. He was studying in Paris with Erasmus and I met him at the hostel I first stayed at when I arrived in September. It's unfortunate that we didn't spend much time together during his relatively short stay in France, but he's only a short bus/train ride away and he invited me to hang out in Amsterdam in the spring! I'm excited to get away from France some more and spend a weekend in one of the most beautiful European cities.

And now, because I realized I fully neglected this: some pictures from Michael's adventure!

The view from the window of our Montmartre flat.
We could also see Sacré-Coeur from our window!! Too bad the window was ghetto...

Making snowballs after the snowfall

Taken by a nice Spanish (Mexican? I forget) couple, just outside our flat.

The bûche de Noël (Yule log) I bought for Christmas dinner at the home of the teacher who invited us to celebrate with them.

The very adorable raspberry Yule log made by said teacher's mother.

I saw some cats in Montmartre.

We went to the Amélie café!

Michael's emotions were difficult to discern.

Mine weren't!

New Year's 2011 on the Pont des Arts (bridge near the Louvre with lots of locks attached with lovers' names).

Furumaizake (sake festival) at Manekineko de Montmartre, where we had made friends with Nakayasu-san! We visited her at least three times in the two weeks we were in the neighborhood. Good memories!

Michael's reverence of the Louvre pyramid.

Nope that's not Michael - it's his friend Matt who was in town from England.