November 2002 archive

(112 entries)

November 30, 2002

The US hasn't cornered the market on tackiness

Strangely enough, the vichyssois seem to have the same Christmas-decoration philosophy as Americans. Despite the fact that they don't know when Thanksgiving is, they started with the Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving, just the way we do. Spooky. Perhaps it's a coincidence or their tradition is to wait eight days after the Beaujolais Nouveau. Who knows?

De toutes les façons, Vichy is now full of light structures in the shapes of Pčre Noël and other tasteful things. The Place de la Poste, just down the street, has been desecrated decorated with some lovely, natural-looking silver-white potted Christmas trees with blue accents that I am forced to lucky enough to walk past several times a day.

srah | 4:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

November 29, 2002

"Message d'evacuation numéro un, message d'evacuation numéro un..."

Fire drill again!

We lost the Internet last time we had one. I had hoped that it would come back after this one. My hopes were even encouraged by seeing Señor Tails in the CDI when we came inside. Perhaps he was reconfiguring things! Perhaps everything was finally fixed!

Nope.

"Do you know when we'll have Internet again?" I asked him, my eyes full of innocent wonder and nonchalance, as though it wasn't really important and I was just wondering. This is the way you have to approach these Technology Gurus, or whatever his job title is. You mustn't be demanding or accusatory or ask things like "How in God's name does it take three weeks to get a school back online in the twentieth century in a relatively technologically advanced country?" You mustn't look directly at the Guru, but instead cast your eyes downward in a submissive way as you approach, hunched over and ready to bow down on the ground whenever he is ready to pay attention to you. You may be required to offer some kind of gift or sacrifice.

"Internet? Still don't know," he replied. So I shot him.

srah | 9:54 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, internet, technology

'Put that bloody cigarette ou--'

I have found something to keep me entertained for a while: 500+ small-print pages of The Complete Stories of Saki. Daddy had read them and suggested them but I never got around to it. I am quite enjoying them because in order to being a long, time-consuming book, the stories are sort of like a twisted P.G. Wodehouse. They're full of upper-class twits and overbearing elderly aunts, but also full of people being eaten by sacred ferrets and suchlike and whatnot. Ridiculous and twisted is just the way humour ought to be.

'And be surrounded by Americans trying to talk French? No, thank you. I love Americans, but not when they try to talk French. What a blessing it is that they never try to talk English...'
- Saki, "Adrian: A Chapter in Acclimatization"

srah | 9:43 AM | TrackBack
Tags: books

November 28, 2002

Gobble-obble-obble!

Our Thanksgiving à la française was surprisingly un-français this year. If it weren't for the dominant language at the table being French, one could have forgotten which side of the Atlantic we were on. We managed to scrounge up enough native American foods to enjoy ourselves and to show our friends from Germany, Colombia and England that la bouffe américaine did not consist completely of deplorable sludge like Macdo.

Cranberries were an especially difficult part of the meal to locate. The French are not particularly familiar with the fruit. When I told a class of Hôtellerie students about Thanksgiving, someone asked me how you say cranberry in French, so I wrote airelle on the board. Then another hand rose and a student asked me, "How do you say airelle in French?"

We ended up buying cranberry preserves and doctoring them with spices. I found them quite tasty. There was also turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, a tomato-corn bread pudding in place of stuffing, squash with curry and raisins, and pumpkin and apple pie for dessert.

Between all of that food and the three bottles of wine, one of cider, and digestif of homemade-by-Stefan's-uncle schnapps that we polished off, we were all quite traditionally sleepy and loath to move after the meal.

srah | 7:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

Just in case you wondered...

One year ago today, I didn't want to eat vagina cookies, discovered Anna, and was elected president of the International Student Union.

srah | 9:54 AM | TrackBack
Tags:

Monsoon season in Vichy

I got the afternoon off due to Veronique's absence, so I've popped into the cybercafé. Almost wrote "pooped into the cybercafé", which would be almost as funny as when one of my students said that the most popular Thanksgiving dessert was pooping pie.

I'm feeling better than I was this morning and am having some unpriced milky tea which will probably turn out to be almost as expensive as this overpriced Internet access. Soon I will be off to Renata's to celebrate Thanksgiving à la française with all of the Vichy assistants, if I can convince myself to go back out in the rain.

Today's uploaded posts begin here, for some reason.

srah | 9:52 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, cybercafe

Oooh, interactive

Following in the example of Krista, who is hosting a series of guest bloggers at the moment, I feel a great need for audience participation. Thus I invite you to blah blah your suggestions for subjects for me to blog about or, if you'd rather, give me imaginative challenging post-titles and I will try to write a post around that. Be creative.

srah | 7:26 AM | TrackBack
Tags:

Anyone? Bueller?

I've been teaching a lesson on Thanksgiving to my students for the past three weeks. You would think that eventually someone who had to read the phrase "This year, Thanksgiving is celebrated on November 28th" (perhaps the students I taught today, for example) would wish me a happy turkey day.

Nope. Here I have the two equally depressing conclusions that either no one cares or no one has understood a word of what's been going on for the last three weeks.

Shite, there go the waterworks again. I can't see the screen. Well, happy Thanksgiving to you folks, anyway.

srah | 6:33 AM | TrackBack
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Ca manque quelque chose

This school is spotless and beautiful - full of flowing water and glass and natural light. What it is lacking, however, is places to hide.

I had a bit of a breakdown today. I usually want to cry around 10am on Thursdays, but I suck it up and continue with the day, which usually gets better from there. Usually.

Handily, no one told me that Veronique is absent today until I got to the classroom door. There, one of my students told me. When my students tell me that the teacher is "missing", I don't know whether to believe them or not. Apparently they had been told that I would conduct class all by myself. So I gave it a try.

What finally caused my breakdown was not that the students were particularly difficult. I've seen worse. It wasn't just when one of my students started picking on my French-spelling skills as though he could do better in English. It wasn't just that the roleplays that had worked so well with the level below them were too difficult. It wasn't just the fact that I finally gave up and let them out early because I could see we were getting nowhere.

It was the frustration that I hadn't been prepared for the situation and that no one had told me. So I went to see the vice-principal and asked her to notify me in the future if Veronique was going to be absent, voice cracking all the while. I managed to get up the stairs to the teachers' area and into the teachers' restroom before the waterworks started.

Srah? Deal with a frustrating situation by bursting into tears? Quelle surprise!

I managed to calm myself down a bit, and realized I shouldn't be taking up the staff bathroom, so I took some deep breaths and left, but immediately went to one of the student bathrooms instead, to splash water on my face. I calmed down considerably, but on the way back to the teachers' area I ran into Daničle, who asked me what was wrong. Of course, in explaining it, I got all upset again, but she was happy to give me some time out to collect myself before teaching her class.

So then I had another hourful of monsters who weren't making any effort, but I think I managed to turn my frustration into the air of disgusted superiority typical of French teachers, rather than being the weak little American assistant who bursts out in tears when you don't know what a turkey is.

srah | 6:26 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

November 26, 2002

Still waiting...

I am at the library, which is free but doesn't allow cut-and-pasting, so no blogging today.

TWO WEEKS. Ahem.

srah | 10:33 AM | TrackBack
Tags:

In case you haven't noticed, THERE'S NO INTERNET HERE

So I am spending my "Planning Period" (a time when the teachers can come and consult me... cleverly scheduled during a time when all of the English teachers are in class) surfing the Encarta encyclopedia instead. Here are the fascinating things I've found:

I already knew about Iggy Pop, but apparently 1976 Nobel Prize (Physics) winner Samuel Chao Chung Ting was also born in Ann Arbor.

There is a place in Provence (Vaucluse, to be specific) called Le plateau d'Albion, where the French had underground missile silos, but apparently don't anymore. I'm a little disappointed.

The 1990 population of Vichy was 27,714 but the population of the agglomération (including Vichy, Cusset, Bellerive-sur-Allier, etc) was 61,566.

Valéry Larbaud was a writer born in Vichy in 1881. He was also well-known for translating James Joyce, William Faulkner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Walt Whitman into French. He became aphasian in 1935.

The things you learn when THERE'S NO INTERNET!

srah | 3:36 AM | TrackBack
Tags: ann arbor, assistantship, valery larbaud, vichy

I Know What You Did Several Summers Ago

The teachers have access to two photocopiers and one risograph. Whatever a risograph is. It seems like a photocopier to me, except that you can only copy sheets of paper and not books and things. We are only supposed to use the risograph when we need 30+ copies.

One of the photocopiers is en panne at the moment, so we're down to one. With all the humidity in the air, it is impossible to get more than 5 copies at a time from this one, because the paper sticks together and jams. So into the photocopier I go, while everyone else seems to just abandon their plans and leave the copier flashing SERRAGE. Once again, I seem to be regarded as a techno-whiz.

I keep wanting to tell people I know all about photocopier paper jams because I spent several summers as a photocopieuse, but I hesitate because I suspect that would mean that I was an actual Xerox machine. So I just smile and pick crumpled sheets out of the innards.

srah | 3:19 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

Potato-man!

I am shocked and confused when I spend mental energy battling against cultural stereotypes and they turn out to be true. Thus I raconte you the story of Siobhan.

I am so excited to actually know someone named Siobhan. Valéry Larbaud's 7-hour-a-week Irish assistant is lucky enough to have this name that not even Anglophones can pronounce. The French have no idea what to do with it. Add to this that she has an Mc last name, and she is a complete enigma to anyone who is unfortunate enough to have to try to spell her name.

It was her first working day yesterday so I showed her around and took her to the cafeteria for the first time. We took our trays, our silverware, our baguette-style roll, and started down the line. We get our choice of fruit, our choice of dairy product, then we get to the main course, which yesterday was turkey and green beans.

I took my plate of turkey and green beans and Siobhan asked me "But isn't there a potato with this?" I stared at her for a moment, confused. It's interesting to have another native English speaker in the school, but sometimes we don't speak the same language. No, there's no potato. There's turkey and green beans. Did she see a potato somewhere? "I don't think so..." I replied. "You don't usually have some kind of potato or chips or something? It's always meat and veg?" I explained that we sometimes have steak haché frites or have a potato product in place of the vegetable, which she found completely foreign. Apparently she is used to having a potato product with every meal.

I am shocked. I had assumed that the Irish couldn't be as dependent on potatoes as they are reputed to be. I think I had assumed that after the Potato Famine they had learned to diversify their meals and that was how they survived.

But apparently not.

Huh.

srah | 3:10 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, cultural differences, ireland, potatoes

November 25, 2002

Into the lions' den

Veronique had grading to finish so she sent me off to the entire class of THOTs alone. All alone. I don't think I would have stood for it with any other class, but they were lovely and told me how to keep their classmates in order (!) and although their roleplaying erupted into the usual hilarity, I was very proud of them for being imaginative and creative and not always liking what the waiter brought them.

srah | 10:16 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, teaching

It bothers my sister when I go

Bork! When I talked to Becky on the phone last night, it was reported to me that the lovely and talented John Hannah was featured in the Surprisingly Sexy section of People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive issue, apparently just across the page from the lummy Alan Rickman.

Ha! What is so surprising, exactly? I am only disappointed they didn't figure more prominently. Bork!

srah | 4:42 AM | TrackBack
Tags: alan rickman, john hannah

The Joys of Teaching

Yes, I write all over the board. But if you were paying attention when I wrote the words, you would know which one was the answer to which question.

And since I've already asked this question a million times in the past week, what the hell are you thankful for?

srah | 4:29 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, teaching

Up in smoke

Señor Tails says that something exploded and that's why we don't have Internet. This was after I said "What happened - did something explode?" He seemed to think this was a good explanation and said that whatever it was that exploded is out being fixed and he doesn't know when it will be back. How can you not know? Do they not even give you an estimated time when they can have it fixed?

Renata, Jennifer and I decided yesterday that many of the computer-related slowness in France comes from people being allowed to smoke in public workplaces. Unless you have some powerful lip muscles, you are doing everything one-handed, including typing. This explains why I am seen as some kind of expert around here, with my 11 words a minute or whatever it is.

And even if you can hold the cigarette between your lips, you may also be dropping hot ash and sparks into important computer parts and melting them as you go along.

I can only assume that they've already fixed the exploded part but managed to set it on fire as soon as they'd finished. Ah, la France.

srah | 2:54 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, internet connection, smoking

Some lummy yucky bork near Bumblefuck-sur-blé

Last night I went to Renata's for the Sunday Night Movie but ended up eating Fresh Homemade Spaetzle made by a Real Live German with a Real Live Dead Inanimate Spaetzle Press. I spent the rest of the evening playing Euchre very badly, gorging myself on Halloween candy and chattering away in invented tongues with My Fellow Americans. So no Movie of the Week Review for you. I know you're disappointed.

srah | 2:42 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

November 23, 2002

"How do you know he is a Gustav?" "'E looks like one!"

I have a serious problem with people who are not named Gustav.

When I was in Grenoble, there was a Swede in my class named Gustav, who was very pale and blue-eyed with white-blond hair.

When I met this year's French assistant at Albion, I kept wanting to call him Gustav as well, because in addition to his fair hair and blue eyes, his name is Gauthier. Gustav, Gauthier. Close enough.

Now I have a student with a Scandinavian last name and pale hair and blue eyes, but who insists on being called Guillaume rather than Gustav.

What is with this barrage of G-named blond people? I suspect that they're all Gustavs in disguise, calling themselves by other similar names just to confuse me.

srah | 7:23 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, gustav, study abroad

That will bring us back to 'do'

The day we went to the Puy de Dôme, I imagined the mountain as having a flat green top where I could spin around like Fraulein Maria (always Fraulein Maria and never just Maria, thanks to Robin) in The Sound of Music.

Unfortunately when we got there, there didn't seem to be a flat green top and if there was, we couldn't see it for the fog. I must have been remembering the picture of another puy. So if anyone has suggestions of good locations for Fraulein-Maria-twirling, let me know, because I know one or two English assistants who would be interested.

The only reason I thought of this right now is because of my breakfast, which is tea with jam and bread.

srah | 3:29 AM | TrackBack
Tags: the sound of music, travel

November 21, 2002

Igor

I am scrounging up pairs of eyes for the S2OLs to practice their eye exams on, because I am the nicest assistant ever and because I desperately want them to like me. How sad.

I feel like a bodysnatcher or something. Hee hee. I swear, all of these eyes are connected to living, breathing human beings and will not be used for any torturous purposes, but only to read far-off eye charts.

srah | 6:47 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

You know it's Thursday when...

... you have to hold two classes hostage after the bell in order to get everyone to participate in the "What I'm Thankful For" discussion.

I think everyone hates me. At the moment, I couldn't care less.

srah | 6:45 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

November 20, 2002

Calling people with eyes!

If you are in the Vichy area on a Thursday afternoon, the S2OLs would like you to be a cobaye, bay-bay, for their vision examinations. They are sick of practicing on each other.

I have now invited everyone I know to come and have their eyes checked out, so I am going to start branching out to people I don't know. "Holding the door for you was really no problem, ma'am. But you know how you can repay me? Go and have a delicious meal at Valéry Larbaud, followed by an enjoyable eye exam."

srah | 10:00 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, teaching

November 19, 2002

Cha-cha-cha!

I think I'm losing my mind. I have a burning desire to watch televised ballroom dancing.

srah | 10:00 AM | TrackBack
Tags:

On vous attend, Señor Tails

In the week that the Internet's been dead, I've written 13 pages of nonsense in Word. What a burden it will be to read it all when I get it up. What a ridiculous amount of time it is taking to get it back up. Is there anything I can do to speed up the process? Did the server explode and we're building a new one by hand? From Legos and chewing gum?

If I had a disk, I would take my blog-posts to the cybercafé. Unfortunately, I am not clever like that.

srah | 6:10 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, internet connection

Extremely confusing explanation of class levels

Terminale BEP
The last year of the BEP, a two-year specialized technical degree which allows students to enter the workforce without continuing their studies until the BAC.
Last year, they were in Seconde BEP (and before Seconde, they were in middle school).
Next year, they can go to work or continue with the Première Adaptation BAC Pro.
Première Adaptation BAC Pro
A class of "adaptation" students who have the BEP and who then decided to continue their studies in order to get the Professional BAC. This is separate from the more general students who have come directly from middle school and have not done the BEP (Première BAC Pro), because they are usually older and less motivated.
Last year, they were in Terminale BEP.
Next year, they will be in Terminale BAC Pro.
Terminale BAC Pro
The second and last year for the Professional BAC.
Last year they were either in the Première Adaptation BAC Pro (if they had to be "adapted" from the BEP) or in the Première BAC Pro (if they did more traditional general studies).
Next year they can enter the workforce, go to the university, or go for a BTS degree.
Première année BTS
Students working for the BTS technical degree, equivalent to some trade schools. Some have come from the BAC Pro, some from the general BAC
Last year, they were in Terminale BAC Pro or the general Terminale BAC in a general school, or they were working.
Next year, they will be in the Deuxième année BTS.
Deuxième année BTS
Second and last year of the BTS degree.
Last year, they were in Première année BTS.
Next year, they can go into the workforce with a technical degree. There may also be opportunities to specialize their craft with further studies.

srah | 5:59 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, france, teaching, technical school

srah's schedule

MONDAYTUESDAY WEDNESDAYTHURSDAYFRIDAY
09-10TV2
Terminale BEP Ventes
Planning PeriodTH2
Terminale BEP Hôtellerie
10-111ASMS groupe 1
Première Adaptation Sciences Medico-Sociales
S1HOT
1ère année BTS Hôtellerie
11-12S1OL
1ère année BTS Optique
1ASMS groupe 2
Première Adaptation Sciences Medico-Sociales
TH1
Terminale BEP Hôtellerie
12-13
13-14
14-15S2OL
2ième année BTS Optique
1AHOT groupe 1
Première Adaptation Hôtellerie
15-16THOT
Terminale BAC Hôtellerie
1AHOT groupe 2
Première Adaptation Hôtellerie

Well, that was a terrific waste of an hour and a half. How sad that I have nothing better to do.

srah | 5:49 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, teaching

Oops

I accidentally came to school today. I forgot the 1ASMS have a test, so I have no classes today. This wouldn't be so bad if a) the Internet worked, so I had something to do while I was here or b) I hadn't walked to school in the freezing freezing Michiganesque cold. They are doing work on my bus stop, so I had to walk to the next one and missed the bus in the process. And to think I considered wearing a skirt today. Brrrrrrrrrrrr.

srah | 4:16 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, weather

Ahem

I would just like to point out that ça fait une semaine aujourd'hui qu'on est sans Internet. Ahem. Some of us need the Internet to do our job and are quickly running out of materials. Ahem. This is not exactly a third world country here; it seems to me we should be able to get back online faster than this.

srah | 2:52 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, internet connection, teaching

November 18, 2002

The Pilgrims? Aren't they like monks?

Today I did a lesson on Thanksgiving. It was not all I wanted it to be because the stinking Internet still isn't back, but it was okay. I used it on two classes. One was bored out of their minds and the other, one of my favorites if I'm allowed to say that, spent most of the time erupting into hysterical laughter that had nothing whatsoever to do with Thanksgiving. But at least they weren't dead.

Anyway, I've been sidetracked. The point I wanted to make is that I told my students the story of Thanksgiving, then I told them how we celebrate it today. After describing a modern Thanksgiving, all I could think was that Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday. First we stuff ourselves with food until we're sleepy and sated, then we plonk ourselves down on the couch to watch American football. Egad.

srah | 2:25 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, holidays, teaching, thanksgiving

Soupe aux crevettes, cocktail aux crevettes, crevettes Creole?

After the glorious thing that was Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves dubbed into French, this week's Sunday night movie was Forrest Gump. It's been a while since the last time I saw the movie. Haley Joel Osment is so young. It's funny to see thirty years of Americana dubbed into French.

Et c'est tout ce que j'ai à dire à ce sujet.

srah | 11:42 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, movies

Yes, cow, I have two whole paragraphs!

srah | 11:28 AM | TrackBack
Tags: school of information

Hell's well!

For crap's sake. While awaiting The Return of the Internet, here I am typing my blog entries in Microsoft Word. My Mariah Carey entry is over a page and a half long in 10 point font.

I really ought to be shot for wasting the Internet like that.

srah | 10:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags:

November 17, 2002

I like free stuff

Especially free food.

Even when the food is a "Remember, it isn't our fault, so don't try to get your money back, but here is a box of airplane-style comestibles" non-apology consolation prize. I find it amusing, however, when my roll has stuck to it a little white silica packet like the ones that come in boxes of new tennis shoes. A little roll, wearing a sign that says, "Do not eat."

srah | 10:00 AM | TrackBack
Tags: travel

Mariah Carey is stalking me

Yes, the billionaire has-been had nothing better to do than follow me around all weekend. She was one of the guests this week of the Star Academy, a sort of American Idol-Big Brother hybrid where young French people are locked up together in a château for intensive pop star training and eliminated one by one by the audience and each other until someone wins. The Star Académiciens are visited from time to time by various pop stars who sing with them or offer them pearls of wisdom like "Always follow your dreams."

This week the académiciens and the public at large were lucky enough to have Mariah Carey And Her Enormous Breasts thrust upon them. And I was lucky enough to be spending the weekend with 25-year-old men who are really big fans of Star Academy.

Mariah pulled up in her limousine and tottered into the château in her sweatpants and high heels. She said some completely useless stuff to them through the help of an interpreter, all the while with an air of "Yes, I'm Mariah Carey. Isn't it such an honor to be in the same room as me?" about her and all the while falling out of her shirt. The students, on the other hand, had more of an air of "I'm really glad the interpreter finally told us who this was, because Mariah has managed to put on a good 50 pounds, most of which has gone to her face and made her completely unrecognizable."

After her brief introduction, Mariah held interviews with three lucky students, the first of whom was Georges-Alain.

Ah, Georges-Alain. How does one describe Georges-Alain? He has somehow managed to become the cheri of the voting public, despite being indisputably ugly, having no talent for singing or dancing, and having about as much charisma and stage presence as Al Gore. I think it is perhaps for all of these things that they keep him there - because he's so very untalented that it's entertaining. I myself love Georges-Alain for his lack of talent - it always makes me laugh.

On top of all these charms, Georges-Alain is painfully shy and speaks about zero English. So it was completely impossible for any conversation to go on between him and the vapid superstar. She dismissed him and had much better luck with Aurélie and Nolwenn, who get by much better in English. Then Mariah tottered back to her limo, all the while saying stupid things and making me wish I didn't speak or understand English.

This was all during the week, in the daily grind of being a superstar-in-training. On Saturday, however, it was The Big Day. Saturday is when everyone performs and they announce who's been voted off. It's when the starlets get to sing with their idols. And with Mariah.

Mariah returned on Saturday and got to engage in very confusing banter with the Franco-Greek host of the show. I think it was more confusing for me as an Anglophone because Nikos was trying to carry on the conversation and translate for the audience and improve on the inane things that came out of Mariah's enormous face. He would say something to her in French, she would look blank, he would translate into English, she would respond, and he would say in French whatever he wished she'd said in English. As a result, it took a million years and nothing really got said. Then sometimes she couldn't understand what he was saying in English either, so she tried to get Aurélie to translate for her. It was all live and it was a chaotic mess of languages where normally she should have had a bug in her ear with a running translation.

Then Mariah started singing and looking over the students with an air of "I believe the children are our future. Maybe someday one of them will be as big a star as I am. But just in France." I don't listen to a lot of Mariah Carey, but her voice sounded odd, like there were two distinct personalities fighting for possession of her brain. One, the one who sang the high and loud parts, was the Mariah Carey I knew. The other, the one who sang lower and softer, had the strange vocal sounds of a deaf person, in the way that they tend to enunciate less clearly and seem to speak from a different place in their mouth and throat than the hearing community does. It was extremely odd and made me wonder exactly what had happened when Mariah had her breakdown.

When she was done singing, Mariah didn't seem to know exactly what to do, so she did what any normal person would do in that situation: she kidnapped Georges-Alain. She grabbed him by the hand and walked off stage with him. Nikos, of course, had no idea what was going on, so he translated whatever she had muttered, "She says she wants him to help her compose some new songs." Riiiiight. Does Mariah Carey compose her own songs? Somehow I doubt it.

I believe we went to a commercial at that point, in the style of any live television program which has just erupted into chaos. When we came back, Georges-Alain was back on stage with the other académiciens and Nikos was grilling him about Mariah. Georges-Alain, of course, had no more idea than Nikos did about what happened. Some scary trampy American former star with mental issues had dragged him off the stage and chattered at him in a foreign language.

With Mariah gone (perhaps being questioned by the police), the show was able to continue as normal. Or as normal as it can be, given the circumstances. Of the three candidates for eviction, evil bombshell Nolwenn was saved by the public and the académiciens, given the remaining two, chose to keep weird Jérémy - elegantly clad in a plastic headband and some kind of potato sack or butcher's apron wrapped around his waist to look like a skirt - over Anne-Laure, the ever-perky hard-working lesbian.

I hope you realize that there is no hint of sarcasm when I say that I am so disappointed I don't have a TV in my apartment.

srah | 8:46 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, mariah carey, music, my favorite posts, star academy

A disturbingly insensitive and graphic post

If you want to end it all and piss everyone off while you're at it, an excellent way of going about it would be to throw yourself under a train at the place where the Angers-Nantes and Angers-Cholet lines meet. That way people who arrive at the Angers train station at 10:30 for an 11:00 train will not be able to take this train, because it had to stop after it squished you. In addition to that, they won't be able to take any other train, because no trains can get to Angers. "Indeterminable delay" will flash up on the departure board for all of the destinations.

Then perhaps, if you're lucky, at 12:30 some American girl will be standing in line to ask if she's going to be charged extra for her connecting train (if there will be one) when they suddenly announce that the 11:00 for Lyon has arrived and everyone needs to get aboard immediately. This is where you get a bit more revenge, because it is discovered that your squished carcass has caused some damage to the engine. Everyone off! This train isn't leaving after all!

Back goes the American to the line, wondering if she's going to have to take the 13:45 Angers-Lyon-St-Germain des Fossées-Vichy trip that costs twice as much as the original ticket. The SNCF won't reimburse it, of course, because it was not their fault that you threw yourself in front of the train. Then there's another announcement. The American's ears perk up. They're going to change the engine, so everyone back on board!

Everyone will be annoyed that they had to get off and back on, but at least they're leaving now!

... or in a half hour. Maybe. Or whenever they get the new engine on.

Bravo. Perhaps this was a last cry for attention; it certainly attracted the attention of hundreds of people trying to get to or leave Angers, Cholet and Nantes.

srah | 6:48 AM | TrackBack
Tags: travel

November 16, 2002

Srahs are punny

My favorite thing is when someone makes a play on words in French and I get it. I love songs with plays on words because I am happy to understand them. Sometimes I am entertained even when it wasn't done on purpose. For example, the French use the same word, avocat for lawyer and avocado. So when the lawyers went on strike two years ago, I was quite amused to imagine little green fruit in the street with signs and banners.

At dinner tonight, they were talking about a friend who had been in the hospital. Mme Astagneau asked if he was better now and Lucie said he must be, because she saw him the other day, eating a réligieuse.

I started giggling and it eventually built up to hysterical laughter and I thought I was going to cry. Although I knew very well that a réligieuse is also a kind of cake, I couldn't help imagining that the friend had been feeling well enough to eat a nun.

The Astagneaux looked at me like I was crazy.

srah | 3:08 PM | TrackBack
Tags: french, puns

It's not my party but I'll spell like I want to

In France, if you're talking about a family it's not The Duponts, but Les Dupont. The plurality shows in the article, rather than in the name itself. I still have a great desire to call Antoine's family Les Astagneaux because I like things with Xs and Zs in them.

So there.

srah | 3:06 PM | TrackBack
Tags: french

Wouldn't you like to be beside the seaside?

Antoine, his sister Lucie, and I went on a day-trip today to Les Sables d'Olonne, a seaside town two hours from Le May. It was especially nice because it was a nice day in the off-season. We had lovely weather, but we didn't have the masses of tourists and sunbathers that Les Sables gets in the summer.

We saw Le Puits de l'Enfer first, or Hell's Well. I'm going to start exclaiming that, because it sounds just as ridiculous as "hell's bells". It's an area with steep rocks and crevasses where the waves crash violently and fall with big splashes of foam. This is the way I like the ocean! Passion and excitement and danger, not the in-and-out of your average sandy beach.

Les Sables reminded me of Penzance, although I've never seen Penzance. It reminded me of my mental image of Penzance, anyway. But then I'm always thinking about Penzance, aren't I? It also made me think of La Serena in Chile, which I have seen.

We had a drink in a café where Antoine got pooped on by a seagull, then a delicious lunch in a seafood restaurant by the port. Then we went to another beach. You have to go through the forest to get to this one, so there weren't many people there either. During WWII, the Germans thought the Allies were going to debark there so they set up camp and waited for them. Their bunkers are still there and because they did a lot of shooting practice, every time there's a storm (as there was last Wednesday, apparently) it stirs up the sand and people look around for old bullets. Lucie found two, including one right next to my foot that I hadn't seen. My excuse was that I didn't know what I was looking for.

On the way home we drove past the restaurant where Antoine and Fanny announced their engagement to his family (the wedding is December 14th) and the castle of Gilles de Rais, also known as Bluebeard.

srah | 12:00 PM | TrackBack
Tags: antoine, assistantship, sables d'olonne, travel

You've come to the right place!

If I am going to show up in this search request at all, I'm rather disappointed that I'm only #43.

srah | 4:07 AM | TrackBack
Tags: search results

November 15, 2002

Hi, not dead here

... but the Internet is, at the lycée Valéry Larbaud anyway. There was a blackout and when the power came back, the Internet didn't. I'm blogging away on paper and in Notepad while waiting for it to come back, but they say it might be a week. Then I will pre-date my blog posts and this one will be lost in the middle somewhere and you will all be confused and hate me forever.

Meanwhile, this weekend I am in Le May sur Evre (between Angers and Nantes), visiting Antoine, our former French assistant from Albion, who has kindly allowed me Internet access to let the world know where I am. He has also allowed me to eat a lot of chocolate and pastries, as the family lives right over the patisserie/chocolaterie that they own.

I am here in a chocolate wonderland and you are not. Nyah nyah.

See you when the Internet comes back to life!

srah | 5:51 AM | TrackBack
Tags: travel

November 14, 2002

One of the guys

I went out tonight to dinner and a bar with Antoine and his copains. It's funny to be the only American and the only girl in a group of French men. I spent a lot of time watching and listening and only spoke when I was spoken to. It's hard to participate in a really animated conversation between friends because by the time I've formulated my thought it's moved on to something else.

srah | 7:05 PM | TrackBack
Tags: french

As if I don't freak out enough

I was stressing out as the train got closer and closer to Angers. Every time I'd called Antoine's cell phone, it had gone directly to the voice mail, which suggested to me that it was not on. I had left him a voice mail to tell him what day/time I was arriving and I had visions of arriving at the station and trying to find a patisserie in Le May sur Evre in a taxi. I had left his landline number at home so that wasn't an option unless I could find a phone book when I arrived. So I spent the four hours in the train in turmoil, brewing over my various sources of stress, of which this was the primary one at the moment.

Luckily, Antoine had found it odd that I hadn't called and had called his friend David who had his cell phone while Antoine was in Mexico. David couldn't check the messages because the battery was dead, so Antoine had to call his cell phone provider and find out how to listen to the messages through his landline. He discovered at 8:30 that I was arriving at 9:15 - just in time to make the 45-minute drive from Le May to Angers!

So I was very very happy to see Antoine sur le quai when I arrived and he was very happy to have made it on time.

And now I am happy because Antoine lives in a chocolate wonderland.

srah | 3:29 PM | TrackBack
Tags: travel

Manic-depressive year

In case you hadn't noticed yet, I complain a lot. I'm sure I had many complaints in Grenoble, too, but I didn't have anywhere to write them down so I remember it as a mostly positive experience.

And despite my complaints I am happy here, when I'm not losing my mind.

srah | 1:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

Everything is lonely for you, you whiner

What is the likelihood of running into someone else from Ann Arbor, Albion, Grenoble or Vichy/Cusset in a train from St-Germain des Fossées to Nantes? Not very good. So why am I still staring at everyone I see, looking for a familiar face?

Train travel is lonely.

srah | 12:54 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, travel

His name means "tails" in Spanish

I tracked down the system administrator and asked if he knew when the Internet would work again. He didn't know. "Do you think it will be ready by Monday?" I asked. "No - it will be at least a week," he replied. I exited his office depressed and dejected. "Don't listen to him," said a prof standing outside the door, "he's a big liar."

Now I'm confused. Yes? No? What the hell is going on? Stop playing with foreigners like that!

srah | 7:56 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, internet

Encore jeudi

Three classes in a row. The first one won't behave and this frustrates me and makes me want to cry and depresses me for the rest of the morning, so that I am in a bad mood for the other classes. Although I may not show it - because I'm frustrated when I arrive - I love you, S1HOTs, because you are the pick-me-up that gets me through the morning. If it weren't for you, I would be hiding in a staircase somewhere, crying and babbling in franglais and losing my mind. Thank you for participating.

srah | 6:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

You can run but you can't hide from the Internet Addict

When the power came back on Tuesday, the Internet didn't. And still hasn't. And so I am typing these blog-entries into Notepad. How long can it possibly take to get the Internet back up after a power outage? Did something blow up? Did they decide Internet was too high-tech and they're not going to put it back? WILL I EVER BE ABLE TO PUBLISH? And more importantly, where is our system administrator? I haven't seen him in two days. I think he is hiding from me, which is probably a good idea at this point.

srah | 6:20 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, internet

Jean Reno as romantic hero?

I went to the movies last night with Renata, Jennifer, Rachel and some of Rachel's French friends from the foyer. Ooh, alliteration.

We went to see DĂ©calage horaire with Jean Reno and Juliette Binoche which, as I predicted, was a rather confused Franco-American mess, having been billed as the first French American-style romantic comedy. It didn't seem to know if it was French or American, and neither did Jean Reno's character, who kept throwing random English phrases into his dialogue and making the anglophones titter. All in all, it was rather amusing but nothing to write home about. Or write in one's blog about. Oops.

My favorite thing about it, though, was the new preview for Le Seigneur des anneaux: les deux tours, which made me literally shiver in anticipation.

srah | 1:58 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, lord of the rings, lord of the rings: the two towers, movies, reviews

November 13, 2002

Sorry, I was not raised on cheese!

Today I had lunch with Agnès, Marie-Claude (a math teacher at Valéry Larbaud and friend of Agnès') and Claudine, a friend of theirs who teaches at Presles. This would not have been blog-worthy, except that we ate at the "resto gastro", the fancy restaurant in the school where Valéry Larbaud's hôtellerie sections get to practice their art.

Today it was the Première Adaps' turn to serve, so I was surrounded by the class I met last Thursday, looking serious and professional. How scary.

It was an incredibly enormous meal of:

gnocchi à la Parisienne
truite meunière
pommes à l'anglaise et petits legumes tournés
assortiment de fromage
choux à la crème

not to mention apéritifs, wine and coffee.

Our server was Fabien, who seems to be more mischievous and bavard in class and had an unnervingly professional concentration and reserve... at least until we were the only diners left and he started teasing me for not finishing my cheese.

Everything was delicious and enormous and incredibly fancy, with millions of forks to choose from and Fabien to pour the wine and filet the trout at the table. Very enjoyable. If you find yourself in Vichy, do try the Restaurant Gastronomique du lycée Valéry Larbaud!

srah | 2:09 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, food

How many landladies does it take to change my oven?

Last night I dreamt that I was at an American football game in Vichy and I called my landlady on my cell phone. The guy in front of me turned around and said, "How do you know Mme Messana?" "She's my landlady," I replied. "Oh. She's my mother," he said. His name was Olivier and we adopted him into our group of English Assistants even though he was French, in his 30s, and prematurely balding.

Alex called me in the morning and we were talking when the doorbell rang. It was earlier than expected but I was waiting for a package, so I answered the door and it was Mme Messana. Apparently the deal has finally gone through and she had come to look over the building.

I went back to Alex. "Not my package, just my landlady," I explained. We continued talking and the doorbell rang again so I went to get my package and returned to Alex a bit disappointed. "Not my package, just another landlady," I explained Mme Alléas' arrival.

What an excessive number of landladies! My package finally arrived the third time the bell rang, but I opened it rather hesitantly, wondering if it was going to be another landlady I hadn't seen yet.

The happy end to the story is that I now have an oven that works!

srah | 5:03 AM | TrackBack
Tags: apartment, assistantship

November 12, 2002

Trouble ahead...

Oh for heaven's sake!
Weekend plans not bad enough
in song? Try haiku!

To Angers I go
to see Antoine, our former
assistant français.

I don't know what there
is to see in Angers but
I guess I'll see it.

The Loire Valley is
full of castles but I don't
think he lives in one.

He lost my number
and called Alex but Nasko
answered as usual.

Poor Nasko, Pato's
receptionist. At least he
speaks to France often...

Antoine and srah will
commiserate, both having
cheris far away.

Between le Mexique
and le Chili, he and I
should practice Spanish!

srah | 3:51 PM | TrackBack
Tags: antoine, haiku, pato, poetry, travel

Weekend plans

Apologies to Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan.

For I'm going to visit Antoine (Antoine)
I'm going away and
I'll go to Angers and
we'll eat a whole lot of avoine (avoine)
It's hard to find rhymes for that name!
I'm going to visit his coin (coin coin)
I hope that it isn't trop loin (trop loin)
And we will see what there's to see in the départements de la Loire.
And we will see what there's to see in the départements de la Loire.

srah | 3:16 PM | TrackBack
Tags: gilbert and sullivan, music, parodies, the mikado, travel

A blog-post in cartoon form

srah | 11:47 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, technology

I wish you were my student

During all of the alarm-hullaballoo, j'ai revu the guy who helped me find my missing class last Thursday.

It was my last class of the day, the last class in all of my schedule that I hadn't seen. I hadn't asked Véronique for the room number, but most English classes are in the language area of the school. I wandered up and down the halls, but I couldn't find her. So I went to the acceuil and asked them if they knew where Véronique was at this time. They sent me to Mme Laval, the proviseur adjoint, who looked up Véronique's schedule and discovered that she did not have a room number down for that hour. So she sent me to the vie scolaire, where I met the vie scolaire man, who took me on a grand tour of the lycée, because we couldn't find the class anywhere we would have expected to find it.

As we wandered around the school, Vie Scolaire Man asked me where I was from. I told him I was from Michigan, and he said "Michigan. It's in the North? With the Great Lakes? Oh, and Detroit, too. The car capital. Home of Ford!" I was everso happy. If only my students could retain that much information about Michigan!

srah | 11:26 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEH!

Onomatopoeia, here we come.

I was sitting at my computer post in the CDI when my computer - and all those around it - suddenly went *glub*. For some reason the lights in the CDI had been off all afternoon anyway, so we didn't realize that all of the power had gone out. We all looked at each other, confused and accusatory, then looked out the window and noticed what had happened.

Then the delightful sound started. *MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEH*, went the alarm. Luckily it was a bit muffled from inside the CDI, but as we sat at our computers, waiting for them to rallumer, people would open and close the doors, trying to see what was going on in the hallway, creating a sort of MEEeeeeeeeeeeeEEEeeeeeeEEEeeeee effect.

No one rushed outside and I later learned that it was because this alarm was not the normal fire drill bell, but one that the students had never heard before - some kind of burglar alarm thing. We sat in the CDI for a while, but when we saw other students filing outside, we... sat in the CDI for a while more. The general feeling I got from my fellow CDIers was Burning up is fine - at least we'd be warmer than those poor suckers out there.

Finally I left, more because I wanted to see what was going on than anything else. I stood around in the cold a while and gravitated towards a group of teachers who I knew from sight but had never talked to. I was thus very happy when I found English teachers, because I actually knew them to talk to.

People started gravitating back indoors, even though the alarm was still going off. I found another group of teachers and administrators I sort of knew and stood around and listened while they talked. Finally the lights came on and I decided I might as well go back to the CDI.

So here I am. What a great story. The network is back up, but I can't get anywhere on the Internet. La la. This would be a good time to write a grad school essay if one were motivated to do such a thing.

srah | 11:17 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, technology

Teacher, educate thyself

Whenever I'm in France, I undertake Attempts To Educate Myself, because the selection of English books available to me runs heavily towards the classics. I don't know if my vague memories are of the book or the film, but if I've read the book (or had it read to me) it was years ago. I am happy to say that I quite enjoyed Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass when I read them last weekend, because it was just the amount of whimsy and ridiculousness that appeals to me.

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."
- Through the Looking Glass

Exactly, Humpty. Je suis complètement d'accord.

srah | 10:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: books

Nostalgia

It is very strange to see people from high school who you haven't seen in forever and who are all big and grown up now. I don't really feel nostalgic about high school and I see most of the people I care about, but every once in a while I wonder what happened to people I knew.

srah | 10:05 AM | TrackBack
Tags: ann arbor

Wha--?

you have an ominosity quotient of

five.

you are somewhat more ominous than average.

find out your ominosity quotient.

[via The Gweilo Diaries]

srah | 9:26 AM | TrackBack
Tags: quizzes

Binge and purge

I have been something of a bulimic sleeper of late.

Ew. I just pictured that and feel the need to clarify that I have not been forcing myself to throw up in my sleep. Ew.

Anyway, my point was that I have been binging and purging on sleep - getting lots one night and little the next. For example, I went to Renata's Sunday night to watch Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves dubbed into French on TV, then we talked and giggled until after midnight. Then when I got home, my family called, so I talked to them until after 2am. Then I read for a while, and I finally got to sleep sometime closer to 3:00.

I was awakened the next morning at 8am when Alex called me and I decided not to go back to sleep because I had groceries to buy. Then Renata, Jennifer and I went for another epic hike (to St-Germain des Fossées) of at least 24km, and by the time I got back, I barely had time to make dinner before I collapsed. So last night, I slept from 8pm to 7am. It would be healthy to have a regular sleep routine. Alas, I havnae got a regular work schedule and I have all of these stupid holidays thrown in everywhere, so this is not likely.

srah | 9:04 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

Plus j'apprends, plus ça m'étonne

The more I hang around the teachers here and listen to them talk and complain about the students, the more I wonder what my high school teachers had to say about me.

Probably not much - I don't think I was very remarkable or memorable. At one point during high school I went back to Scarlett with Robin to visit teachers and my 8th grade US History teacher asked Robin who her friend was.

srah | 8:51 AM | TrackBack
Tags: ann arbor, assistantship, srah

November 11, 2002

Quote for Tuesday

"For every person who wants to teach there are approximately thirty people who don't want to learn--much."
- W. C. Sellar and R. J. Yeatman

Or at least two.

srah | 6:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, quote

November 10, 2002

Mothers, shield your children! Old people, run for cover!

... Beware of... THE BIRDS!

Around dusk, Vichy turns eerily Hitchcockian as swarms of birds take to the sky and the trees in the Parc des Sources. From far away, when you see them flying around and swarming in formations, it looks like a grey-on-blue lava lamp. Fascinated, we were drawn to them and walked in that direction, but as we got closer the sheer numbers of birds frightened us, between the deafening squawking and the threat of being shat upon. Suddenly we realized why the park's walkways are covered...

srah | 2:26 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

Queen of Suspense

Thinking I was very clever to outwit my six-book check-out limit at the library, I checked out a book that was actually three novels in one volume, all by Mary Higgins Clark. How sneaky you are, srah. All of that reading and it only counts for one of your six. It will bring you hours and days of enjoyment.

Of course, it would have helped if you knew anything about Mary Higgins Clark before, because it turned out to be hours and days of blah and screaming.

While my solitude is slowly leading to insanity and making me talk to myself, it was only reading while this volume that I started talking to books. I started criticizing the incredibly stupid characters and the author out loud and cheering when I read that one of the characters worked (c. 1992) in the World Trade Center in New York. I think MHC has caused a sharp decline in my condition. Unfortunately, the title page is missing from the book, so I have not yet figured out the address of her publisher in order to send future psychiatrists' bills there.

I'll give you an example:

'...It's near Branscombe, a beautiful English village. Built during the time of the Norman Conquest.'
'About nine hundred years ago,' Judith interrupted.
'I really must remember I'm dealing with a historian...'

My first instinct upon reading this was to slap Stephen for saying something as stupid as that last line, when not just a historian but anyone with a high school education (especially in England, as they are) should know the date of the Norman Conquest and have a vague grasp of subtraction and thus be able to provide that information.

My second thought was to smack Judith for interrupting Stephen with that useless bit of pseudo-information when he clearly knew the age of his own house, being a snotty upper-class type person.

My third thought was to realize that this was not just a conversation between two stupid people, but a conversation thought up by someone who is somehow a best-selling author.

The most frightening thing was that I went through this thought process several times in each novel, so I have to assume that there is more like this out there. I also have to recognize that I did read all three, which makes me wonder about myself as well.

In conclusion, While My Pretty One Sleeps, Loves Music, Loves to Dance, and The Anastasia Syndrome are highly decommended by the weblogger, who is starting to wonder about the Vichy Public Library's English Books section, as it carries this volume as well as WMPOS and LMLTD by themselves, BUT neither Lord of the Rings nor Harry Potter.

srah | 7:42 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, books, mary higgins clark, reviews

November 8, 2002

Yup, that's about it

Googlism for Vichy, France:

vichy, france is bad enough
vichy, france is that it

The other day, one of the conversation-starting questions I used on my class was "Would you like to live in Paris one day? Why or why not?" That worked so well, I had them list the advantages and disadvantages of Vichy as well. They talked about the parks and the opera and the nightclubs and how it was calmer than Paris and less polluted. The only disadvantage they could come up with for Vichy was that there were so many old people. Nice to know it's not just the American assistants who notice! And, since they said it, it must be a valid opinion, because

valery larbaud is at the top of scholastic establishments

srah | 11:52 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, paris, teaching, vichy

And yet more pictures

This should be the last of the bunch for a while... this roll got held up a while with processing problems, but it's number 3 of 5 and therefore fits in somewhere in between the last two installments:

More Clermont-Ferrand
View from the top of the cathedral in Clermont-Ferrand - is it just me or does this angel have a lightsaber? The Virgin Mary looking out over Clermont-Ferrand

More Vichy
The headquarters of the Vichy Regime in WWII, now the tourist office covered walkway in the Parc des Sources

Mon appartement
Welcome to Villa Montcalm!  Here is the courtyard and the front door to the building... ...and here is the door to my apartment.  If you'll turn to your left upon entering, you'll see... ...my kitchen appliances - refrigerator, stove/oven, and sink, as well as my table and chairs and the window, from which you can see... ...the view out my window onto the alley behind.  Going back inside, to the right of the window, you'll see... ...my table and chairs again, as well as my pantry/dish cabinet and my chest of drawers.  This picture was taken before I had moved in, which explains the lack of crap on the top of the chest of drawers.  Isn't it nice (and accidental) how the poster matches up between this picture and the one of... ...my bathroom door and my bed.  Now we'll open the door so you can see... ...the bathroom.  Thrilling, isn't it?  Moving on, we see... ...the remaining corner of the room with my wardrobe and the door to my room, now closed.  Let's go outside now and see... ...my window and the back door to the building.  Did you enjoy the tour?  That will be 4€, thank you.

Views from a 25km hike
a house with a mill and water running under it I have a weakness for photographing landscapes 'Moo', remarked Renata the woods I imagined the GĂ©vaudan Beast jumping out at me from the bar we ran into to escape from the rain

srah | 11:15 AM | TrackBack
Tags: apartment, assistantship, auvergne, clermont-ferrand, photos, travel, vichy

My least favorite things to hear

Actually, there are probably some that are a lot worse. "Maybe she'll wake up if we give her an electric shock" comes to mind. But these are the phrases I would rather not hear again during my séjour in France:

"Oh? You both speak English? You should speak English to each other."

"You speak language x? Say something in language x."

I need more direction than that, thank you. I am not a parrot. Forced conversations or forced language-speaking is, by nature, forced and therefore not natural. And when I hear one of these phrases, all logical normal speech flies out of my mind and all I can say is:

"duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh"

or, in the case of "Say something in Chinese,":

"Duibuqi, Xiaomu bu shi zai tushuguan."

because it's one of the few things I still remember how to say.

srah | 10:42 AM | TrackBack
Tags: language

I am illiterate

Or iscriberate or something. I can read, but I can't write. I have to write an essay for my SI application and I have no idea what I'm doing. I came in today just to work on this essay and I'm stuck.

NYARGH!

srah | 8:53 AM | TrackBack
Tags:

Hey srah, are you writing your grad school application essay?

Your mom.

srah | 8:40 AM | TrackBack
Tags:

Hey srah, are you busy preparing lessons for next week's classes?

Your mom.

srah | 7:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags:

Go away

... and read my sister's blog.

Because she told me to tell you so.

srah | 6:51 AM | TrackBack
Tags: alfie

'I want to play all the parts, including Mabel'

One of the things that I have found myself missing during my two extended experiences abroad is the ability to kick out the jams and sing.

Ha ha, I said "kick out the jams". I am so not cool.

As you may already know, I am by no means a singer of any talent whatsoever. The only places I feel comfortable singing are in the car - because I can be in an enclosed space all alone and no one need hear me when I sing at the top of my lungs - and in the privacy of my own home. Of course, even in my own home, my own mother will hear me and come along and close the door. Everybody's a critic.

Singing at the top of my lungs is the only reason I like to drive, but I do miss that in France. My shower is not connected to my room but is in the hallway, right under the staircase, so I can't sing there either. I've decided today that my neighbors are all out, and thus have been singing and dreaming, once again, of inflicting on the world an extremely painful and nonsensical one-woman show of the male-dominated musicals 1776 and Pirates of Penzance.

srah | 4:14 AM | TrackBack
Tags: 1776, flower drum song, gilbert and sullivan, music, musicals, singing, the pirates of penzance

Bienvenue chez Extand

For some reason, when you send a package from the US to Vichy, rather than being delivered by the postal service, it has to go through the package delivery service Extand, which is always a delight.

I think they have some kind of surveillance on me so that they can be sure to stop by when I'm not at home. They leave a note saying that they stopped by and giving me a phone number to call to reorganize a delivery. How considerate.

The first problem is that the number is not toll-free - in fact, it costs more than a regular call, 1,34€ for the call plus 0,34€ per minute. This would be slightly more acceptable if I didn't suspect I was paying every time it said "All of our circuits are busy. Please call again later" and hung up on me, and when I finally got through and was directly put on hold for the length of a song from Pirates of Penzance on my end and some crappy Muzak on theirs.

The second problem is that even if you get the message at noon on the day of attempted delivery, you have to wait until 9am the next day to call and set up a new delivery time, which must be in the morning and cannot be the same day you're calling. So that's two days right there. Then in my case, I was told that they do not redeliver on Saturdays or Sundays. Monday is a national holiday, and I work Tuesday mornings. So Wednesday will be my new delivery day, for the package I should have gotten yesterday (Thursday).

When Jennifer got her last package, she had to pay a 49€ import tax because of the value of the package. I have this vision of receiving a ripped-open package on Wednesday and being told "The value of this package was estimated at X amount. But we've tasted that Halloween candy in there, and it's pretty good, so we think it's worth more than that. Give us some money."

The, Extand, the.

srah | 3:40 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

November 7, 2002

Open letter to the bus company

Dear Bus Inter,

Your buses are scheduled to come once every half-hour. So once the bus is 15 minutes late, we are actually closer to the next bus than to the one that is late. This is bothersome when one is wearing a skirt and boots that aren't made for walking, or when it is cold and/or rainy.

Cease and desist thy tardiness, evil bus company! C'est éxagéré, les gars!

srah | 12:21 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, bus, open letters

A voice crying out in confusion

I've decided to change the French language. I'll start, and the rest of you follow, okay? All together now, allez hop! ... oh. No one? Fine, I'll have to do it all by myself.

Whereas we have only one, the French have two words for "scarf". A foulard is a gauzy, drapey thing, often made of silk. An echarpe is a warm winter scarf. My problem is that no matter how many times I tell it, my brain refuses to absorb these words because it feels wrong.

To me, the word echarpe sounds elegant. It sounds like "sharp", which is how we might describe the dress of someone who wears silk scarves. Foulard, on the other hand, sounds heavy and woollen. It sounds like "muffler" does.

I can't resign myself to using the words the way the French do, so I just won't. And then no one will understand me. So I probably will end up using them the right way, but at least I will have made my point in this thrilling blog-post. Nyah.

srah | 12:17 PM | TrackBack
Tags: french, scarves

Night night says Yoda

Home I go to my pasta and mushrooms. Return to school tomorrow I shall, though working I am not.

For the computers are here, and not there. Which is why I'm here and not there. Can you tell I'm losing my mind? I swear, I was going to do something worthwhile when I sat down here, but instead I've blogged for two hours. Brava, srah. Hey, that rhymes. Oh god, stop the typing.

srah | 11:55 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, computers

Wuvoo

You're all too kind with your boos, etc. Thank you. You make me happy.

srah | 11:46 AM | TrackBack
Tags:

Bonjour!

Hello to any of my students that may be visiting. Translate it if you must, and tell me you've been here. Please?

srah | 11:40 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

What are we having for dinner tonight?

Thought you might know, because I sure don't.

Last night I made chili. It was a very odd kind of chili. You know how some things are accumulatively spicy, so they get hotter and hotter as you eat them? My chili did that, then it went downhill. I think the spiciness was in some way related to the heat of the food. Is this scientifically possible?

I don't care. I think I'm just typing in order to put off going outside, because I'm afraid it's raining again. Pâtes aux champignons it will be tonight, then. Thank you for your cooperation.

srah | 11:35 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, chili, cooking

I am such a complete and utter nerd


Which Founding Father Are You?

[via Cooped Up]

srah | 11:23 AM | TrackBack
Tags: quizzes

I love school

For some reason, the filters here seem to think that writing a novel is cihpargonrop, so I can't see my last post.

Speaking of school and the title of my cihpargonrop post, is anyone at this school not named Romain or Aurélie? Anyone? Bueller?

srah | 10:53 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, technology

Pas de roman, que des Romains

If I had a computer here to myself, to use when I wasn't at school, I would write a novel this month. I really think I would. It would be fun and time-consuming. It would be very long and very bad, with little or no plot.

Unfortunately, I am a big whiner who hasn't written anything on paper in years and who can type for days on end but whose writing hand cramps up after an hour or so. So no novel this month. I guess my adoring fans will have to hope I have a computer and no life come next November.

srah | 10:50 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, nanowrimo, writing

Boys are dumb and srah is happier

What does it take to lift my spirits?

A new class of yet-unseen students and "Do you have a boyfriend?" "Do you have a sister?".

The same old questions, every time. I am flattered and it makes me giggle.

srah | 9:03 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, boys

Dommage que ça soit interdite

For the most part, I feel better than I did last night, if only because I have lessons to give to the students. They are learning about American coffee houses today, whether they like it or not. They are doing word searches even though they are 20 years old and it doesn't make them construct their own English sentences. Too bad. I am sleep-deprived.

I did have one class this morning that really frustrated me, though, and made the sleep-deprived American consider crying when it was all over (but she had to go to another class, so there was no time for these conneries). And when I say one class that frustrated me, I mean one side of the class. And when I say one side of the class, I mean one student.

I always laughed in the orientation meetings when they told us we were strictly forbidden to hit students. Hmm.

srah | 6:44 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

Are they made of... wood?

In case you were looking, I am Your Number Four Source for Dave Coulier Buddy Icons. Come 'n' get 'em.

srah | 6:37 AM | TrackBack
Tags: search results

November 6, 2002

Insomnia

I can't sleep because I'm stressed and frustrated. I think a good remedy to the situation would be to eat cookies and pace in circles. Yes.

srah | 7:36 PM | TrackBack
Tags:

I'm not perfect... but I would like to be

The most difficult thing for me to handle here is the feeling that I'm not in control of anything. I need to be in control. I need to be on top of things and know what I'm doing. I feel like I spend most of my time being lost and confused and doing my lesson plans the morning of, because I had to talk to the teacher about them, and still not being sure if it's what I'm supposed to be doing, if it will last the whole hour, if it will interest the students, or if it will teach them anything remotely useful.

I come to school at 8am, talk to the teachers, they tell me things that make sense in theory, but I have no idea how to put them into practice.

Sometimes I really wonder what the hell I'm doing here and if the students wouldn't be better off learning from someone with actual pedagogical training and experience. I feel like a fraud and I feel like I'm treading water, just surviving from one class period to another based on luck. I'm treading water and I never have a moment to relax and feel on top of things - to get into a rhythm and feel comfortable.

It's true that I haven't been here for long and that I may get comfortable as time goes on, but I'm feeling very stressed at the moment and I don't quite know what to do. Maybe once I get to know my teachers and classes, everything will become clear.

In the meantime... is psychiatric consultation covered by French Social Security?

srah | 6:42 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

"I promise not to kill you"

I was sitting at a computer in the CDI today when I looked down and saw a small eight-legged creature climb onto my bookbag, which was sitting on the floor. I had a moment of shock and alarm and felt I should react accordingly, but I couldn't find the word. Spinach!, I cried in my head, Clothespin! Peanut! The spider, who was eensy weensy anyway and really nothing to be frightened of, got away before I could remember how to identify him.

srah | 12:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: french

Blargh

It's dark. Time to go home, especially since I wasn't technically at work today.

I got nothing accomplished, as usual, except for all the fruitless searches, as Peter Gabriel would say.

Except I don't think PG was looking for coffee shop vocabulary on the Internet.

srah | 11:40 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

I kept my Swingline stapler because it didn't bunch up as much


What Office Space character are you?

[via Rumors of My Demise]

srah | 10:59 AM | TrackBack
Tags: quizzes

Ick ick ick ick ick

I have found the lyrics to the Drifters' song Under the Boardwalk online, on a site for teachers of English as a Second Language. My first thought was "how inappropriate". Then I thought further, and my second thought was "ick ick ick".

Exactly who were the Drifters trying to attract, with their appealing offers of a love nest that is sandy, has people walking just above, children on a carousel nearby, and - best of all - the scent of hot dogs in the air? I am not seduced.

srah | 10:57 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, music

I want comments

And I ain't too proud to beg.

Please leave a comment and tell me what your favorite word, ice cream flavor, color, or travel destination is. Or all of the above. Or just write "boo". I'm lonely.

srah | 10:49 AM | TrackBack
Tags:

A cornucopia of treasures to come!

According to my landlady, the long-awaited sale of my building from the Mysterious Old Owner Who I Have Never Met to the Potential New Owner Who Signed My Contract should go through Friday, leading to a washer/dryer being installed in the building, the mystery of Why My Oven Doesn't Work being solved, an oven rack to go with the solution to the mystery, perhaps a new refrigerator door handle, a new desk for Jennifer, and all-around satisfaction for all.

I am not holding my breath.

srah | 10:48 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

Am I getting paid for this?

I have unintentionally brought upon myself a flood of students I don't know, asking me to help them make corrections on their papers about The Importance of Money In My Life and What Makes a Real Friend. I thought it was going to be one person with a few questions, and they all fell upon me. I had fun, but sometimes I worry that I take too active a role in correcting and that I do too much fixing and suggesting rather than helping.

srah | 10:26 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

November 4, 2002

Home sweet school

There is a children's book called I Think My Teacher Sleeps At School. As for the lycée Valéry Larbaud, they could publish a book called I Think My Assistant Lives at School. I hadn't realized it before, but that is probably why I was going insane with boredom and loneliness.

Today, for example, I had class from 9-10, 11-12, 2-3 and 3-4. But I got to school before eight o'clock and stayed until almost six. Why walk home in the rain to my empty apartment when I can sit in the CDI and have access to all of my online friends and family, as well as any students who want to talk to me in real life?

I usually stay a bit after 12 on Tuesdays and come in on Wednesdays just to ask teachers what I should prepare for Thursday's class, to do research, and to blog. I missed this free social outlet!

srah | 2:13 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

Pickshers continued

The Allier river
the Allier a pato I saw and spoke Spanish to the Allier and leaves turning colors

The Spas
Les Thermes de Vichy-Callou Les Céléstins Les Thermes de Vichy

Le Parc des Sources
View of the Parc des Sources (Park of the Springs) another view of the old casino

Seeing Becky in Grenoble
Alfie and me

srah | 11:35 AM | TrackBack
Tags: alfie, assistantship, grenoble, photos, travel, vichy

Next thing you know, I'll be working as an elf...

I was going to blog about this later, but I have also found a 2001 Onion A/V Club interview with David Sedaris. I am ecstatic. I want to go out for coffee with David if he's still in France. Find me, David! I have also just discovered that David and his sister Amy are both on What'sBetter.com, so here comes the long-waited (since this weekend) post:

I am turning into David Sedaris. It's not that I can't ask for one of anything, it's that one carrot looks so lonely in the bag. He needs a friend to live with him. Or, if I'm being David, perhaps I should say that she needs a friend, because he was the one who had his dresser-top objects going out on dates in order to learn their gender. So yes. I can't just buy one carrot, or one tomato, or one clementine, or one apple. Which is something I could do here - just buy fruit when I need it - because I am close enough to the supermarket and I go there all the time anyway because I have nothing better to do. So along with my collections of spices and .20€ pieces, I am collecting fruits and vegetables that I bought without any real plans for their future. At least it's not two kilos...

srah | 11:00 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, books, david sedaris

Eep! Srah on film

Someone just came into the CDI and snapped a picture of everyone sitting around the computers. I am right in the middle, lucky me. So I will be figuring prominently in the January edition of the bulletin municipal de Cusset, whatever that is. Yeah me.

srah | 10:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

Des araignées sur le plastron d'mon smoking

Today I did a lesson on smoking for my TV2s and THOTs. It's funny how I can take the exact same text and it will turn out a completely different lesson between the different classes I use it on. The TV2s got into the text (on a Florida amendment to ban smoking in public places) and what every phrase meant, while the THOTs were much more into discussing who smoked and why they had started, and things like that. It seemed to work pretty well in both classes and made them talk, but there's really no predicting what will interest people and what won't.

srah | 10:30 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

The Sunday Op-Ed

click here for the answers!I like it so I'm willing to do it late. As usual, click on the icon for the answers and go and put your own questions in your blog.

1. What would be infinitely better if science could find a way to make it warm instead of frozen?
2. What smells very bad when you break it?
3. What do I not like in any of my drinks, but, worst of all, always seem to get in my fruit juice here?

srah | 10:19 AM | TrackBack
Tags: memes, sunday op-ed

No me gusta mucho Beethoven


Take the test

[via Suck is Life]

srah | 4:53 AM | TrackBack
Tags: quizzes

I'm number five!

Perhaps if I write it again, I will go higher up on the results for the most addictive website. Thank ye.

srah | 4:45 AM | TrackBack
Tags: discovered

srah is just stupid

Just in case you wondered who I am, Googlism can tell you:

srah is my older sister
srah is just stupid
srah is an hourly worker
srah is nice and buteeful
srah is really cleva so we call ger a geek to
srah is going on another depressing job search at yahoo
srah is 6 years older
srah is withheld under the official secrets act
srah is to present those factors in a straightforward manner
srah is the same sarah barrington listed as a child of marion madison
srah is buried at east point
srah is unpacking
srah is laughable
srah is here to stay

and I learned some new things about my boyfriend...

pato is doomed
pato is a very private possession
pato is a tenderhearted aging bachelor who nonetheless has the spark of ambition in him
pato is sweet and loveable and you can sympathize with him for being caught in the war between maureen and her mother
pato is a qualified chemist and self taught winemaker
pato is national director of the association in spain
pato is armed with the riot or combat shotgun
pato is good enough
pato is a 2 year old wood duck
pato is sustained without leave to amend
pato is available everywhere but it is easy to find in california
pato is my favorite native american actor
pato is the new "roving journalist" for the department of communication and marketing
pato is a founding member and was musical director of the london school of samba for five years and is also musical director for combined european brazilian
pato is irreplaceable for his legendary sense of humor
pato is the name everyone mentions when the bairrada region is discussed
pato is the most genuine sport of the country and argentinian players are considered to be among the best of the world
pato is used to beat this substance
pato is being shut down
pato is the cool
pato is proposing to serve liquor on a deck directly in front of the existing building
pato is too young to update his own page
pato is the team clown
pato is also a good friend
pato is waiting for you
pato is one who has attained the cessation of all kamma
pato is coming over
pato is the star
pato is okay

[via ann arbor sucks]

srah | 4:41 AM | TrackBack
Tags: discovered

November 3, 2002

My, what a frigid vacation spot

Srah's latest Insane Travel Dream is to visit the French Departement d'Outre Mer (DOM) province of St-Pierre et Miquelon, just off the coast of the Canadian province of Newfoundland. When one thinks of the DOMs, one often thinks of Guadeloupe, Martinique, and La Réunion, but no one ever talks about poor St-Pierre et Miquelon - probably because no one in their right mind would vacation there.

I want to take pity on it and visit it, and perhaps poor French Guyana as well, the lonely little enclave of francophonie in South America.

Anyone up for some Wacky Travels With Srah?

srah | 3:03 PM | TrackBack
Tags: travel

You will sell me the best baguette in the shop...

Other bakery employees are falling under my spell. It was very busy tonight when I went to buy my baguette and the two salespeople finished with their customers at the same time and both turned to me. I asked the girl for a baguette and she and the boy both went to get it and playfully pushed each other in an attempt to get there first. Luckily it happened that the monsieur behind me in line wanted one too. Mwah ha ha.

It probably has more to do with intra-boulangerie sexual tension being worked out than with a particular desire to serve me, but I have chosen to be flattered. Recognizing my "usual", then fighting to give it to me. It's fun to be a regular.

srah | 12:09 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

Just my luck

go%20you.
what foreign language are you?

[via Closer Proximity]

srah | 10:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: quizzes

November 2, 2002

Spice girl

As I try out new things in an attempt to learn how to cook, I am amassing a collection of spices. As if you cared, I will tell you that I am the proud owner of ail, cumin, curry, origan, paprika doux, poivre noir (which comes in a container with a grinder attached to it - so it's nice and freshly milled), and sel. More shall be amassed, I am sure, when there is a need for them, and once I figure out what things like cerfeuil are in English. I feel so grown-up, owning spices. How sad.

srah | 2:17 PM | TrackBack
Tags: food, french

I miss you

When I saw on the news that Yves Saint-Laurent had died, my first thought was, 'Damn that Dr Dre and his microwave popcorn!'

Some of you are infinitely richer for knowing what I'm talking about, and I miss you for that. There aren't enough people here to quote to.

srah | 2:00 PM | TrackBack
Tags: quote

November 1, 2002

The language nerd's adventures in Auvergnat

I'm not quite sure what my goal was in checking out this Pocket Auvergnat phrasebook, but it dos have some interesting information on the region. For example, Mentre tres annadas terriblas, la "Bèstia" devoriguèt dròlles e dròllas dins lo caire de Saug means, for all you Pacte des loups fans, "For three terrible years, the Gévaudan Beast devoured boys and girls in the area of Saugue."

I have also learned that lai a mai de vint vialas d'aigas en Auvèrnhe and the ever useful Podria 'nar gitar las vachas ame vosautres?

These are all lovely phrases, but I'm not sure that I'd find anyone to use them on, even if I could handle the prononciation. Vichy, although now in the Auvergne political region, is far enough north that it was originally inside the former region of Bourbonnais rather than the traditional Auvergne boundary. It may be possible to scrape up an old guy playing pétanque in southern Auvergne who can still speak a bit and there's an immersion school in Aurillac, I believe, but a vichyssois on the street would probably run away if I asked them Parlatz auvernhat?

srah | 7:08 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, auvergnat, auvergne, language, my favorite posts

'If I took enough crack, I bet I could walk on these clouds'

Yesterday Renata, Jennifer, Rachel (the English assistant) and I rented a car to see The Bits of Auvergne You Can't See By Train. Our destination was the Puy-de-Dôme, one of Auvergne's inactive volcanoes, but we took the scenic route and stopped at many other out-of-the-way places while we were at it.

Our first brief stop was at St-Nectaire, home of the cheese of the same name, which is one of the cheeses of Auvergne (along with Cantal and Bleu d'Auvergne) and is Stefan's personal favorite. St-Nectaire is another spa town which, despite being hors saison, was quite touristy-looking.

We pushed on and stopped at the Lac Chambon. It makes me laugh a bit to see French lakes and compare them with lakes in Michigan, but I think there is something pretty and comforting about being able to see from one side to the other. I quacked at the ducks, our cameras went *snap snap*, and we got back into the car.

We were easily distracted along our route, so when we saw signs for the Château de Murol, we turned off to have a look. We walked up to the castle, which was not yet open, as we'd left Vichy at a little after 6:00 am. But we did see their "mini-park" of animals, including black sheep, deer, a rather territorial Shetland pony, and a Scottish Highland cow. The castle was on top of a big hill, so there were nice views of the valleys and the far-off puys.

We drove throught the valleys and the town of Mont-Dore, another spa town that didn't impress us much, and stopped at one point to see a waterfall, the cascade de Saux. From there we went back uphill and found ourselves with a great view of the Roche Tuilière and the Roche Salavoire, two craggy mountain peaks.

We went to Orcival more to find a café where we could use the bathroom (and thus avoid any public toilets that involved squatting...) than with any real interest in the town, but we had a nice wander around Orcival and into the Basilique Notre-Dame, a 12th-century church which is a site of pilgrimage for reasons I couldn't pick up anywhere. After Orcival, we decided we had better hoof it to the Puy-de-Dôme, but we did stop to get a better look at the château de Cordès, which was unfortunately closed.

We continued to the puys and parked at the bottom of the Col de Ceyssat. It was a very steep 45-minute hike to the top, which we managed to do in 35 minutes. Once my out-of-shape body recovered and I was reasonably sure that my heart wouldn't explode, the view was quite impressive. We sat on benches in the observation area and looked out onto the chaîne des puys from a height of 1465m. When we were done eating, the weather started turning for the worse. While we'd climbed up in t-shirts, we had to put our sweaters on and began to wish we hadn't left our jackets in the car. We went into the bar to have a coffee/tea/hot chocolate and wait out the weather, but it didn't improve much. By the time we climbed to the Roman temple ruins at the very top, the mountain was surrounded by thick clouds, so that it looked like the world ended there, and that everything below had disappeared. It was very impressive.

Time was ticking and we had to have the rental car back by 6:30, so we started the trek down the mountain which, at such a steep grade, was almost as difficult as going up and definitely harder on the knees;

After a discussion on such differing American/British terms as biscuits and pants while stretching back at the Col de Ceyssat, we got back into the car and attempted to find a more direct route home. We drove through many villages and small towns and were delighted and confused to see little French children in costume and, apparently, trick-or-treating. This is a relatively new event in France and I hadn't realized its popularity had spread to such an extent.

We got the car back at 6:40 but the person who was waiting for it, being a 20-something male, was not too disappointed at being kept waiting by four 20-something females.

While the train system in France is very good, there was something nice about being able to choose our own route and stop when and where we wanted, and to see the little Auvergnat villages we saw. I personally woudl not feel comfortable driving in France, but Renata seemed to have a good time behind the wheel.

srah | 5:46 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, travel

Look out, Martha Stewart

In all my whinging about how I don't know how to cook (I really don't - I had to call my mom for help with hard-boiled and scrambled eggs), I forgot that there is one thing I know how to do, thanks to Baldwin: stir-fry.

So I went out and bought veggies and sauces and spices, and have come to one certain conclusion: I am - to paraphrase Ana Gasteyer as Celine Dion - the best cook... in the whole world!

No, seriously, I am very happy to have put in all of the chopping and frying effort and to have come up with something I was proud of. I decided I wanted to use curry, so I went around the kitchen alternately sniffing the curry and my other spices and sauces and often cringing, but I ended up using onion, curry, chickpeas, mushrooms, soy sauce, lemon juice, a bit of vinegar, carrots, and green peppers. I highly recommend the curry-lemon juice combination.

srah | 4:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, food

Incorrect mode of address: Hey, Princey-baby

My latest ambition is to become Prince William's best friend. I don't want to marry him, unlike every other girl between 15 and 25 on six continents, but I want to be his pen pal. This all came about because I had a dream where I went to an English cousin's wedding and met a million second- and third-cousins I'd never seen before, and one took me to a garden party where QE2 and her grandson were present. I will be William's best friend and confidante, talking about Chile and what it's like to be a royal or an English assistant, and he will get Alex into Oxford and Becky a meeting with his brother. Mwah ha.

srah | 4:15 AM | TrackBack
Tags: dream, prince william

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