December 2002 archive

(75 entries)

December 29, 2002

Hello from Grenoble

I haven't had much desire to blog and neither have I taken blog-notes since I found out on Christmas Day that my grandfather had died that morning. Hopefully by explaining that here, I will de-block myself and be able to tell you about the rest of our travels the next time I'm online. Hope you're having a happy holiday season.

srah | 3:30 PM | TrackBack
Tags: grandpa

December 24, 2002

Who am I? What day is it?

I hate the anxiety that comes with rushed, early-morning departures. Did I do this? Did I do that? Did I leave the light/gas on?

Well, here I am, off to Paris to retrieve my beloved. Merry Christmas Eve!

srah | 12:00 AM | TrackBack
Tags: travel

December 23, 2002

'I came into this country illegally. My back is wet.'

My carte de séjour receipt expires on the 25th and they can't renew it until it expires, at which point I will no longer be in Vichy. I am going to England on the 2nd and coming back on the 5th, at which time I will hope no one looks at my passport too closely. I'm not terribly concerned because I usually wander off the plane/train into France and no one cares, but it is rather exciting to know that I could potentially be stopped and questioned.

srah | 9:07 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, travel

December 22, 2002


If you care, the Srah-Alex Christmas Vacation Itinerary is as follows (subject to change if transportation is difficult or funds run low):

December 24 - December 25/26 : Gap, in the Alpine part of Provence... or the Provençal part of the Alps, if you prefer. Home of my host mom's brother and his wife, and location of this year's family fête. Jokes about us going to The Gap for Christmas are not acceptable, but any mention of Minding The Gap may receive a little giggle.

December 25/26 - December 30 : Grenoble. Hopefully this will include a trip to a Real Live Big City Cinema to see Movies In English. We don't have such things in Vichy, but they're our preeeeeciousssssss and we wants 'em.

December 30 - January 2 : Paris. New Year in the City of Lights. Wooey!

January 2 - January 5 : England, to be theoretically split between London and Oxford. I'm sure I will try to speak French to everyone.

January 5 - January 10 : back to scenic Vichy for teaching for me, a Spanish class-visit for Pato, and luncheon chez Valéry Larbaud for the both of us on the 9th, at which time we will make a great effort to annoy our server by not speaking French.

srah | 2:54 PM | TrackBack
Tags: travel


Once I am in the cybercafé, I never want to leave.

srah | 2:19 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

Out of control

[you are a genetically engineered naked featherless chicken]
What Really Weird Thingy Are You? Find out @ blackhole

What's your sexual appeal?

brought to you by Quizilla

Which cartoon character are you?? Find out @ blackhole

I'm going to kill myself.

Which Harry Potter Guy are you Most Compatible with?

brought to you by Quizilla

[via s h a d o w e d c h i l d]

srah | 2:09 PM | TrackBack
Tags: quizzes

Back online

Shoo. Here I am again. I guess I have to take back my holiday wishes.

srah | 1:37 PM | TrackBack

Wasting time and money at the cybercafé doing THIS?!

Congratulations, you're Chicago, the Windy City.
What US city are you? Take the quiz.

Jennifer would be proud.

You're René Descartes.
Which Rene(e) are you?. Take the Rene(e) Quiz

Magritte was not in there.

You are a muse.
What legend are you?. Take the Legendary Being Quiz

Hmph. I'm nobody's muse but my own.

[via urban gypsy dot net]

srah | 1:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: quizzes

Victoire allieroise

The horns were a-honkin' in the département de l'Allier last night as I walked home from Presles. In the distance, somewhere beyond the fog, fireworks could be heard. Nolwenn triumphant! Victory for St-Yorre and the Allier! Star Academy is over.

srah | 10:35 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, star academy, tv

December 20, 2002

Ode to a Man With an Empty Tupperware Container, or View From My Bus Window

Man holds Tupperware.
A greyhound pees behind him,
wearing a raincoat.

I was inspired. I'm very sorry. THE HAIKU CURSE STRIKES AGAIN!!!!!!!

srah | 10:51 AM | TrackBack
Tags: haiku, poetry

Bye bye

I suppose I will have to be leaving the cybercafé soon. Not sure if I will be back before Christmas, although I'm sure I'll be online from time to time over break. If I am not back before the 25th, Joyeux Noël and Bonne Année to everyone out there in cyberland. If I am... I take it back, you jerks.

srah | 10:34 AM | TrackBack

A few seconds later

Teenaged boys have invaded my private sanctum with their noisy voices and squeaky tennis shoes. Shite. When I have my official coronation as Queen of the Cybercafé, my first act as reigning monarch will be to build a door to keep them out. Or possibly to declare periodical human sacrifices.

srah | 10:28 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

Weird things are underfoot at the cybercafé

I have been led into the inner sanctum of the cybercafé, past the gangs of screaming teenaged boys and their shooting, mooing computer games, to a large, spacious room with ambient music, soft colors, art on the walls, windows, only two computers, and a few tables and chairs. This is very odd. Very odd indeed. I think I may be The Chosen One, although Chosen for what, I'm not sure.

And yet no one has offered me tea, which I would have accepted this time.

srah | 10:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

December 19, 2002

La Malade Imaginaire

I decided when I woke up this morning that now, instead of food poisoning or the Vichy Death Plague, I had either pleuresy or pneumonia. But I feel better now, thankyouverymuch.

srah | 10:20 AM | TrackBack
Tags: health

Repas de Noël

We had our Christmas lunch in the cafeteria today. I had sanglier, wild boar. I felt very much like Asterix and Obelix, minus the wingèd helmet.

srah | 7:57 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, food, holidays

December 18, 2002

The fireman cometh

The doorbell rings at Villa Montcalm. Srah, living on the rez-de-chaussée and thus being the only one who can hear the doorbell, goes to answer it.

"Good evening," says the man at the door, wearing a fireman's coat, "The firemen have come to present their calendar."

Srah wonders what her reaction should be. "Okay," she replies dumbly.

"Are your parents at home?" asks the fireman.

Srah wonders how much younger her pigtails make her look. "This is an apartment building," she explains, realizing even as she says it that it explains nothing and has nothing to do with anything and that the fireman probably now considers her mentally deficient.

"Is anyone home upstairs?" he asks, presumably looking for more calendar-buying customers, or at least some with the ability to communicate.

"I don't think so," replies srah, who had intended to say, "I don't know."

The fireman looks rather relieved at not having to talk to anyone else in this madhouse and off he goes.

srah | 1:39 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, readers' choice


I've decided I don't get nearly enough search requests from people who want to learn about English assistants, or what it's like to be an English assistant, or assistante d'anglais, as I like to call myself. Neither are there searches for my masculine counterparts, the assistants d'anglais. This is the time of year when young men and women's fancy turns to applying for jobs as English assistants in France, so I have decided to pad this blog-post with excessive mentions of English assistants, English language teaching assistants in France, assistants d'anglais and the like, in an attempt to get Google to notice me. Come! Read! Share the experience! Or whatever!

While we're at it, Lycée Valéry Larbaud Cusset Vichy Allier Auvergne. Come discover me.

srah | 10:22 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

December 17, 2002

A more insane delivery service I hope does not exist

As I set off for work today at 9am, I had a presentiment that I was going to get a package today. Sure enough, my old friends at Extand passed by at 9:05 am so I'll probably be able to get my package Friday at the earliest.

srah | 2:02 PM | TrackBack

During a brief respite from the vomit...

Am self-diagnosed as having either food poisoning or the Vichy Death Plague. Am proud of myself for going to work this morning, despite feeling weak, exhausted, hot, cold, and nauseous, but also think myself rather insane. Am stuffing self with juice and crackers in effort to restore nutrients. Do not like being sick alone, but think that in some ways, it is better than being sick and needy.

srah | 2:00 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, health

December 16, 2002

The shutterbug strikes again

More Vichy and the environs
The Aletti Palace, one of the most famous and luxurious hotels in Vichy.  Gerard Depardieu recently filmed there. an inhabited castle in the countryside near St-Yorre/Vichy that we found accidentally - it has a moat!

view of Thiers abandoned knife factory in Thiers Jennifer and Renata by the river in Thiers Renata, Jennifer and another deserted factory

Trip to the Puy-de-Dôme
the tourism office and fountain in St-Nectaire, home of Stefan's favorite cheese view of the puys from the château de Murol Lake Chambon - very pretty, but not Great the Roches Tuilière and Salavoire the Saux waterfall the chateau de Cordès, seen from the beginning of the driveway Jennifer, Renata and Rachel climbing up the Puy de Dome - taken to show the incline view of the volcano chain from the top of the Puy de Dôme

Les Sables d'Olonne
Antoine in front of the sea at the Sables d'Olonne

srah | 4:57 AM | TrackBack
Tags: antoine, assistantship, auvergne, photos, sables d'olonne, travel, vichy

La femme du Puy de Dôme

We lolled around in bed all morning, when we had intended to be on the road by 9 at the latest. We were up dancing until 4am, so I suppose it's understandable. There was also the fact that il a fait un temps pourri, so we were very comfortable in the warmth and dryness of Claude's apartment. Finally we got our rears in gear and headed off for the village of Tournemire.

Tournemire is labelled as one of the most beautiful villages in France and it is easy to see why, with the stone houses and their slate roofs - all very old-fashioned and homey. There is also the chateau d'Anjony, one of Andrés' favorites, and an excellent view of the valley. We scrambled up and down the mountains and in and out of caves, and listened to the gobbling of far-off turkeys.

After Anjony, we went to Salers, home of yet another Auvergnat cheese. The town is preserved as part of the patrimoine de la France, so all of the electrical wires are buried, giving it a more ancient feel (if they're burying electrical wires, I wondered, why don't they bury the cars as well and go for a really ancient feel). We stopped in a restaurant and tore ravenously at sandwiches and tea and coffee, as we were all starving and freezing and wet by the time we got there.

There were many more lovely views and the town of Salers was beautiful and picturesque, so our little American cameras went click-click-click, much to the dismay of Stefan, who does not understand the attitude of the New World in reaction to the Old World. We don't have anything like this in the US and we are far enough away that we might never see it again, so we feel the need to record it. We can't all live next to the French/German border and wander around France whenever we like.

After Salers, we split off from Claude and headed home, playing Twenty Questions and searching for a gas station open on a Sunday evening. The poor Orange Van, already weak when climbing hills and burdened with six passengers, was getting low, and Stefan was getting desperate, but every station we passed was closed. Finally, as we neared Clermont-Ferrand and the needle had been in the red for a good moment, a gas station was spotted and the Orange Van was able to get her well-needed drink before finishing off the journey.

srah | 3:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: france, travel

December 15, 2002

The Partridge Family en Auvergne

I spent the weekend travelling in the Cantal department of southern Auvergne with a group consisting of three Americans, two Colombians, and Stefan, the partridge in our pear tree. We picked up Nelson, a Colombian friend of Andrés' and Stefan's and a non-stop dragueur, in Clermont, and continued south in Stefan's famous Orange Van, a VW camper with a moose on the side.

We stopped for lunch at Super Lioran, a cross-country/downhill ski station with a great view. We hopped up and down in the cold while Stefan worked his magic, converting the Orange Van into a kitchen/dining room. He made us soup on the van's stove, using water from the van's sink, then the six of us sat around the van's fold-out table and had a sort of picnic. It really is a wonder to behold, the Orange Van.

We continued after lunch and arrived at Aurillac just after sunset, so we had a lovely view of the lights of the city as we descended towards it. Aurillac is the umbrella capital of France, although that wasn't why we went there. We didn't know that until we arrived. We went because Andrés, in addition to his 12 hours divided between Presles and Valéry Larbaud, commutes down to Aurillac every week to teach in a school there on Wednesdays. He worked in this school last year, so he still helps them out and makes a special trip to Aurillac every week to do so. When he goes down, he stays with Claude, a sort of host-father he's adopted. So we were all invited to crash at Claude's as well.

We dropped off our stuff, then the two Aurillacois took us for a tour of la vieille ville d'Aurillac. There was lots of lovely medieval architecture and colombage and a former convent with sarcophagi dating back to the Middle Ages. There were medieval passageways, stairways, balconies, and Renaissance-style architecture that was built on later.

Vichy is the victim of one of the peculiarities of the French administrative system. This is the same peculiarity that put Nantes, the ancient capital of Bretagne and home of the ducs de Bretagne, in the Loire Valley region instead of Bretagne. Vichy is in the ancient region of Bourbonnais, home of the ducs de Bourbon, who later became the kings of France. The Bourbonnais is different historically, linguistically, geographically, culinarily, and geologically from Auvergne, but has been lumped in with it for administrative purposes. So after our tour, we went to an Auvergnat restaurant to taste la vraie cuisine auvergnate.

From everything I had read about Auvergnate cuisine, it was with not a little trepidation that I entered the restaurant. First of all, Auvergne is one of those rural farming regions where tout est bon qui vient du cochon, and second of all, the only specific dish I knew of was tripoux. Tripoux is some kind of horrible unmentionable food, but I'm not exactly sure what. I was under the impression that it was sheep's feet stuffed with sheep's stomach, but Renata thought it involved testicles. Alors, as I'm sure you can imagine, I was not particularly thrilled with the prospect of stuffing myself à l'auvergnate.

Once I got to look at the menu, though, I discovered that Auvergne does offer quite a few edible foods as well. I ordered rumsteak et truffade and tasted various elements of Renata's Auvergnat Cheese Salad as well, while waiting for my main course. The rumsteak was a thick steak which was rather bloody, considering I asked for well-done. I would never as for anything less than bien cuit in France, because their idea of well-done is often about equivalent to the American medium or even medium-rare. Anyway, I didn't mind because, being underdone, it was nice and tender and easy to cut. The truffade was a side dish of mashed potatoes, Cantal cheese, and a bit of bacon.

O Truffade! I told Renata and Jennifer that I would write poetry to you, but very few things rhyme with you, so I will have to leave off at O Truffade!. If you, the reader, did not already think me insane, perhaps you will once I tell you that I spent a goodly amount of time speaking to my plate last night. At first it was just little nummynummynummy noises, growing into quiet groans of pleasure, but then I actually started talking to the truffade, telling it how much I loved it, and even at one point giving it a little kiss. The funny thing is that this was not looked on as particularly insane by the other assistants, who are always talking to their own food and beverages. So the moral of the story is: Eat truffade. It is good.

During dinner, conversation turned, as it is wont to do, to the subject of Having Sex With Donkeys. Just a normal over-dinner topic among assistants, quoi. Apparently this is a popular pasttime in the countryside of Colombia.

After dinner, we went out for a drink in a gay bar before heading home. I didn't realize it was a gay bar until Nelson started squirming and looking uncomfortable, at which point I looked around and realized there were Gay and Lesbian Rally posters on the wall and men dancing together. The Americans had a little giggle at Nelson and his discomfort, because he'd been trying to pick us up all day and we weren't very sympathetic. I had an apricot juice.

Then we went back to Claude's apartment and had dancing lessons in salsa, merengue, and various native Colombian dances. I refused but was eventually physically dragged into involvement. Nelson threatened us with a striptease, but thankfully didn't take anything off.

Then we went to sleep. Tomorrow to come in a later post.

srah | 5:47 PM | TrackBack
Tags: food, france, my favorite posts, travel

Coming soon...

The story of my weekend trip in Aurillac - full of adventure, stripteases, donkeys, gay bars, and me falling in love... with mashed potatoes. I'm afraid you'll have to wait until the next time I get online for all of that, but I thought I would tease you.

Also coming soon: two more rolls-worth of selected pictures for your viewing pleasure, including the trips to Thiers, the Puy de Dôme, and Angers.

srah | 4:28 PM | TrackBack
Tags: france

Conversations in cyberland

Cybercafé manager: Would you like something to drink?
Me: No thank you.
CM: Why do you always refuse?
Me: I have had bad experiences with keyboards and beverages.
CM: I promise you you won't have any problems this time.
Me: Okay. I'll have tea with milk, please.

CM comes out with a tray of tea, milk, sugar, and little candies. Later he walks by and I have been typing and have not yet touched my drink. "Sarah," he admonishes, "Why aren't you drinking your tea?" Then I have to pay attention to drinking so that I don't get admonished again. Don't tell, but I managed to spill a bit on the keyboard, luckily away from the keys. So much for promises.

srah | 3:54 PM | TrackBack
Tags: france

December 13, 2002

Moi vendre céréales un jour

I introduced myself to my classes at the beginning of the year and shared some information about Michigan. Of the people and things from Michigan, the most impressive - with more murmurs of approval than Madonna, Eminem, or the Ford Motor Company - was Kellogg's.

I have decided I am going to be the French liaison for Kellogg's, with one goal in mind: to be able to get my hands on Extra in the US. We don't have it yet, do we? It would have to be marketed as a snack rather than as a cereal, but that's how I eat it anyway. You can have puffy chocolate-flavoured cereals in the US, but somehow I don't think actual chunks of chocolate and hazelnuts would fly. Shame.

srah | 4:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, food

Grossly underqualified

Beginning next semester, I am going to be preparing the S2OLs for their oral exams at the end of the year, two by two. They will have to do what they would do for the exam and I will grade them and tell them what they have to work on.

I am concerned that I will be biased in my grading for a few reasons:

1) I am American. I don't know how well I'll be able to pay attention to grammar mistakes because as an Anglophone, when I hear English, my goal is comprehension and not listening for correct grammar.

2) I am not an optician. For all I know, they could be making everything up and anglicizing the French terms for all this optical crap.

3) I attended American schools. In France, students are graded on a 0-20 scale and spend all of their time shooting for 10s. Not even God himself could get a 20, they say. I, on the other hand, come from the Land of Nice, where we live by the law of grade inflation. On our 0-4.0 grading scale, people are constantly graduating 25th in their class with a 4.5. I can't imagine giving less than a 10/20 to someone who manages to communicate in English, but I may have to, depending on pronunciation, vocabulary, richness of ideas and grammar.

4) I am the English assistant. I spend all day with students who give me one-word answers, "ch'sais pô"s, or completely ignore me when I ask them questions. To give a student an article and have them expound on it for 20 minutes straight will be a joy. 20s all around, even if you missed the point of the article and summarized the whole thing in the present tense!

srah | 3:27 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

December 12, 2002

Ghost Researcher

Do you know anything about the movie Ghost World?
It's the Club Cinéma movie for January and I am trying to do a bit of research
on it, which has so far consisted of asking the previous question to my blog-reading

srah | 1:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

There goes srah, wasting the Internet again

I like onions.

That is all. Thank you for your attention.

srah | 1:07 PM | TrackBack

'The two kittens, ears flattened beneath the ribboned bonnets, looked both ridiculous and endearing.'

I have just been reading a neat little science-fictiony book by P.D. James. I thought that P.D. James only wrote mysteries and in fact, this one was in the mystery section, but then again so is The Bluest Eye, so I wouldn't really go by that. The Vichy Public Library's English books section is... creative.

Anyway, The Children of Men takes place in 2021, when the human race has been afflicted with sterility and hasn't reproduced itself since 1995. People have lost interest in sex and there are a lot of unstable middle-aged women who went crazy with untapped maternal instinct and push dolls around in prams and have kittens baptised. The population is aging and lonely and suicidal. Then, after 25 years of sterility, one woman gets pregnant and she and various hangers-on have to go hide in the woods to keep the Warden of England from taking advantage of her and her baby.

What I liked about the book is that the narrator keeps a diary and he keeps referring to it. I like quotes that remind me of my blog...

"He had begun the diary less as a record of his life (for whom and why? What life?) than as a regular and self-indulgent exploration, a means of makings sense of the past years, part catharsis, part comforting affirmation."

srah | 12:42 PM | TrackBack
Tags: books, quote

"Welcome to the real world," she said to me condescendingly

Do you ever feel like they're singing to you? Like the world is a movie and you have your own soundtrack?

So did I, until I realized I'd just bumped the Play button on my CD player. Highly disillusioning.

srah | 11:27 AM | TrackBack

Other answers included merry and open

Sometimes my students have no idea what vocabulary word in the word bank goes in which blank in the sentences and don't bother to find out by the context, so they just throw in anything they can find.

Sometimes that results in sentences like "12. Before they go to sleep, all of the children hang their family above the fireplace."

Sometimes srah has to file things away in her head to blog about later instead of bursting out laughing on the spot.

srah | 10:56 AM | TrackBack

Teacher extraordinaire

I am bubbling over with excitement, because I have just discovered a student who has learned something in the past three months. I have been over these Christmas recipes with five classes now and one student out of these five classes remembered not only what cinnamon is, which no one else has been able to do all week, but also remembered how to say dinde in English.

Yes, it is extremely frustrating that there is only one, but I am happy today because there is one.

srah | 10:47 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

Pourquoi ça, guv'nor?

Sometimes I wonder where the French get things from.

I have a feeling that England shipped over a boatload of Cockneys to teach English to the French at some point in their history, and that it's stuck. I understand that French Hs are silent, but I can't explain why so many French people have a tendency to pronounce Hs at the beginning of words that start with vowels, in the manner of "In 'Artford, 'Ereford and 'Ampshire, 'urricanes 'ardly Hever 'appen."

srah | 6:54 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, english, french

December 11, 2002

I can't get no satisfaction

Today was a day of halves and not-quites.

I had my visite medicale in Clermont-Ferrand, beginning with the lung x-ray at 2pm. I left Vichy at 12:00 because the next train was at 1:07 and wouldn't get me to Clermont until 1:40. I was concerned that I would not have enough time to find the office if I arrived with twenty minutes to spare.

So I arrived at 12:40 instead, looked at my convocation to see the address of the radiography center, and discovered that my appointment was at 2:30, so I was wandering around Clermont for two hours for nothing. I checked out the marché de Noël and the main shopping area at the Place Jaude but didn't find anything to buy. I went to the Fnac and discovered the manga section and was halfway through the sixth episode of Marmalade Boy when I realized I had better get going to my appointment. So I hiked up and down the hills of Clermont and arrived, had to get half-naked in front of a stranger for the x-ray (at least it was a woman this time), then realized that I had two and a half hours to spare.

Harry Potter happened to be showing just at 3pm, so I bought a ticket. After I sat down in the theater, I realized that the movie is actually 2 hours and 40 minutes long, while I had 2 and a half hours and before my appointment. I also realized that I had no idea where I was supposed to go for this appointment. As I was realizing all this, half an hour passed and they still hadn't started the movie. The lights went down, and they played a million years of commercials (including the stupid naked Italian Nescafé man who is at the beginning of every movie I see and who I would like to strangle with his towel the next time it falls off) and previews. THEN they started the movie. In other words, I was obliged to leave before the movie was over, and did not quite get to finish it. Please do not speak to me about anything that happens after Harry goes "HAAAAAAAAGRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIID!" or I will be very upset.

After this joyous occasion, I exited the mall that the movie theater is in, only to find that it was dark and raining and 5:30pm, when I had to be at the doctor's before 6 at the latest. I thought I might be able to find my way, but I got lost and very luckily found my way back to la gare, where I was able to find a taxi and pay the handsome price of 6,10€. I thought I was pretty clever, getting a ride to this unknown location for 6,10€, until the cab driver gave me a card with the company's number on it, for the ride home. Ah yes, the ride home. Hadn't really thought about that one - I had only thought about the getting-there half.

I went to Dr Suss's office where they pointed out that they had two records for me. They decided to fill out half of them and to let the Office of International Migration worry about it. Then I had my check-up, which was not quite a check-up, but more of a really stupid interview with the half-wit doctor that could have been done over the phone, which would have saved me the 6,10€ on cab fare plus the wasted 8€ for half of Harry Potter. He asked me how tall I was, how much I weigh, whether I wear glasses, and if I had any health problems. That's all. I suppose I had to come in so he could tell if I was telling the truth, but who cares? Were the answers so important that it would have made a difference if you were telling a half-truth? Perhaps if you were missing a few limbs and bleeding all over the floor, he would have deduced that you had been attacked by wolves and that, therefore, you were not in tip-top condition. Apart from that, ça servait à rien.

I decided that I would walk back to the train station, or that I would at least walk halfway there and call a taxi once I didn't know where I was going anymore. Luckily, I paid attention on the way there, so retracing my steps wasn't that difficult. I made it all the way back to the station on foot, thereby only having to pay for half of my aller-retour between the station and the doctor's office. As I walked, I ate half an apple. Then I ate the other half. Now I am just padding the number of times I can say half in this story. Anyway, I got to the station and bought an entire ticket and got on the train and had an entire compartment to myself for the whole trip from Clermont to Vichy, so things obviously were looking up at that point.

srah | 3:21 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, bureaucracy, harry potter, harry potter and the chamber of secrets, health, movies, stories

December 10, 2002

"Oh no, that should be restricted. There are some wackos out there."

I spent yesterday bullying all of my classes about going to see Bowling for Columbine.

"We have too much homework," said the S1OLs.

"Is there a bowling alley in Vichy?" asked the S2OLs.

"If we go, will you come with us?" and "Are you taking us to the movies?" and "Are you going to pay?" asked the THOTs.

I, myself, had not yet resolved whether I wanted to see it again this week or whether, like Il faut sauver le soldat Ryan, it was too stressful to see ever again. I decided to ask Renata and Jennifer if they wanted to go to the movies. If they picked Bowling for Columbine, I would see it again and if they picked Bend It Like Beckham, then that was that. They picked the former, so off I went.

It was much more comforting to see it with other Americans. I didn't have the pressure I rather ridiculously felt the first time, thinking that as soon as the lights went up, the audience would see the hat I was wearing - flashing "AMERICAN" in big light-up neon letters - and would stone me for being The American In The Audience and for living in such a confused, violent, frightened country.

Since I wasn't sobbing my head off, I was much better able to appreciate the humor and to catch little background details, like the fact that the K-Mart woman didn't shake the hand of the boy in the wheelchair, and the fact that at Charlton Heston's Hollywood mansion, full of loaded guns around every corner, there was a children's basketball hoop.

srah | 6:46 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, bowling for columbine, movies, teaching

Let it snow let it snow let it snow

They are having ice storms in Charlotte, North Carolina, and I have not yet seen a flake of the white stuff. Don't, however, get the impression that I'm complaining. Charlotte can have the snow, for all I care, and can take with it the ice and the yucky muddy sludge that snow melts into.

srah | 6:20 AM | TrackBack
Tags: weather

Gazebos are rather flammable

There is a student in this school who I met once, but who is not one of my students. Whenever I see him around, it makes me think of Owen Wilson, minus the broken nose. Minus most of the features of Owen Wilson, in fact, so unless it's just the hair, I can't explain why I make the connection. All I know is that when I see him, a little voice in my head tells me that he wanted to be a carpenter because he figured if you're going to follow in somebody's footsteps, why not the steps of our lord and savior, the Big J.C.?

srah | 6:08 AM | TrackBack

'Tis the season to be apathetic


This is not a good teaching attitude. I hope the students will be rather more interested in Christmas than I am at the moment.

srah | 4:05 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

December 9, 2002

Meeting smile after smile

Thankfully, my students were interested in talking about Christmas, right down to leaving carrot sticks for the reindeer and whether or not they had bought a present for their boyfriend's mother.

Though it's been said many times, many ways, Merry Christmas to you, 1ASMS.

srah | 6:02 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

Gnaw gnaw gnaw

Jennifer: "I'm going to go finish my dinner."
Srah: "Yeah, I'd better get back to eating myself."

Does that only sound strange to me?

srah | 1:48 PM | TrackBack

Le toucher

I need a hug.

I think one of the worst things about being lonely here is that I realize I haven't been touched in three months. Strangers will invade my personal space to kiss me on the cheek, sometimes briefly touching my shoulder in the process, but I don't have anyone I'm close to in the way I am close to my family and friends in the US. There is no one I feel comfortable hugging, there is no one to caress my hair and no one's hair to be caressed, and perhaps most importantly, there is no one whose earlobes I can fondle.

It is difficult for an American (or this American, anyway, I suppose I shouldn't generalize) to go three months without hugging someone. After a while, they start doing things like leaping towards French friends in Angers and trying to force them into goodbye hugs. The French don't do hugs, and when they are forced, it is weird and unnatural.

Anyway, that's my problem du jour. Fifteen more days till the arrivée du Pato, then let the hugging commence!

srah | 10:39 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, france, touching, united states

Note to self

Clearly French teenagers do not want to listen to Johnny Mathis, you crackhead.

srah | 10:35 AM
Tags: assistantship, johnny mathis

Ça craint

I went, yesterday afternoon, to see Bowling for Columbine all by myself. Renata and Jennifer had gone to the Gorge de Sioule or however you spell it, but I'd had a headache and research/blogging to do at the cybercafé so I stayed behind. I discovered that Bowling for Columbine was being shown in VO. I was thrilled and ready to go tell all of my students on Monday, and it occurred to me that before I went and recommended it, I should probably see it. So I went and bought a ticket.

It could have had something to do with the five hours of sleep I'd had the night before, but I started crying in the first scene. Throughout the whole movie I was crying and laughing at the same time and not really knowing which I was doing, because despite being about firearms, racism, poverty, violence and fear, it was often presented in a humorous way.

I know the movie touched me more than any of the French people in the audience, because mine was the only sobbing I heard. I laughed, I cried, I wanted to throw things at people on the screen. It was such an intense emotional experience that I can't decide if I want to go back and see the movie tonight or never again. It was mostly about things I already knew, but to actually see it all on the screen created an response second only to the hysterical, hiccupping sobs that lasted for a half hour after the end of Saving Private Ryan.

In addition to moving me more than the French people, I think the movie touched me more than it would touch other Americans, because Michael Moore comes from Michigan and so much of the movie was filmed there. Part of it was that I saw bits of Michigan - I saw Detroit from across the river in Windsor, I saw Genessee County and knew that Jen Dively was from there - and it made me homesick.

The other reason I think it touched me as a Michigander was just to realize what kind of state I'm living in. When they talked about violent images in the media and how the news scares people, it was not Unnamed Newscasters they were showing as examples - it was Huel Perkins and Monica Gayle. It was MY newscast that was the example for America. I knew that James Nichols and the Michigan Militia were milling about in the thumb, but to actually see the whackos freaked me out.

After I got back from the movie, I got on the phone to Agnès and Jennifer and Renata, telling them that they had to go see it and tell everyone they knew and all of their students to go see it as well. I've spent all day trying to explain it to my classes, who don't seem particularly interested. If you are in Vichy, I suggest that you high-tail it to the Mat ciné in the Rue Sornin, tonight and tomorrow at 14h45 and 20h45. Not that anyone in Vichy is actually reading this, but a girl can dream.

Anyway, I highly suggest it. It's very entertaining and while it may not be as emotionally wrenching for you as it was for me, I'm sure you can find plenty to shock and enrage you.

srah | 10:28 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, bowling for columbine, michigan, movies, politics, united states

December 8, 2002

Terribly important update for you

I was having upload problems, but the terribly fascinating images are finally working on these two posts.

srah | 9:49 AM | TrackBack

Today in cyberland

The Activity of the Day at the cybercafé is to scream like a girl, and to tell each other to shut up and watch their language because there is a lady present and this fine young woman is trying to concentrate on the Internet.

srah | 9:47 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, cybercafe

French person in box: mime?

Sometimes I wonder why I'm allowed to remain in this country, with all of the wine, cheese, coffee and cigarettes I consume. I may look French, I may sometimes sound sort of like a French person who has been locked in a box for several years and deprived of vocabulary, but I'm still a mutant in these respects.

srah | 7:54 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, france

Ooh là là

One of Stefan's friends, Renaud, has a sort of party trick of guessing (rather unsuccessfully, but it's fun anyway) where people come from, or their ethnic origins. He couldn't place Stefan, saying he knew him too well (Jennifer and I said he looked Dutch), but he identified Jennifer as having English origins (her correction of Irish was dismissed as close enough), and said that I could pass for French. Hurray for me, even if he was rather off, as I am probably at the most 1/8 French.

srah | 7:46 AM | TrackBack

Mneagh ouchie

On a fait la fête hier soir chez les assistants de Presles. There were friends of Stefan's from his football team, assistants galore from Moulins and Clermont, and plenty of random people I never identified. Food and various alcohols flowed in abundance and a good time was had by all, with the possible exception of Pierre, who started out interesting and entertainingly talkative but drank an excessive amount of hydromel and started railing in broken English about the class system and the mass media (at one point saying that Renata, Jennifer and I weren't part of the invasive Americanism, but instead were "rebels" - except that he was slurring by that point and instead called us "Weebles") and finished the evening by passing out in the bathroom.

We talked and listened to political debates until 7am, and even with only a half glass each of Manzanilla and hydromel in me, I am wishing that I was not awake right now to be writing this.

srah | 7:29 AM | TrackBack
Tags: alcohol, assistantship

December 7, 2002

I, being of relatively sound mind and body...

After reading plenty of Saki, Wodehouse, and various other books that touch on the subject, I've decided that I want a big gang of relatives clamouring for my favour and sucking up to stay in my good graces, in the hopes that they will be the heirs to my enormous fortune.

The only problem I can see so far is the absence of said enormous fortune, but I have decided that it would be a lot easier to inherit it myself than to earn it. So I've decided to become the heir to the estate of Arthur Sullivan or Richard D'Oyly Carte or whoever has the rights to the operettas, assuming someone does.

I don't know how I will go about becoming the heir to said estate, but I think my approach will involve a lot of sitting tight and waiting.

srah | 4:26 AM | TrackBack
Tags: books, gilbert and sullivan, pg wodehouse, saki

December 6, 2002

I'm tired of being alone, so hurry up and get here

Sheri's request in the Great Inspiration-Fest was for pictures and poetry and prose singing the praises of The Pololo. I'm afraid to get too gushy and go on and on, but I would like to say that I have the Best Boyfriend in the World. I often find it a shame that I've got him all to myself, because it seems rude not to share something so wonderful, which I have done nothing to deserve. I'm sure Alex would like to be shared as well; he's a man-whore, but he's my man-whore - charming and loved by everyone he meets, but in the end he is all mine. He is lovely and charming and smart and kind and loving and he makes me laugh, whether he is trying to or not.

I miss him dreadfully. 18 days till he arrives in France!

srah | 2:27 PM | TrackBack
Tags: pato

Surely never had a male so adventurous a tale

I have started reading The Diary of a Nobody. "What a coincidence," comes a voice from the Peanut Gallery, "I am reading the same thing myself, this very minute." Quiet, you.

The name of one of the co-authors of this humorous Victorian story of life in the middle-class suburbs sounded familiar to me. After some grueling research, consisting of reading the Introduction, I learned that it is, indeed, the same George Grossmith who was a member of the D'Oyly Carte theater company and who played such parts as John Wellington Wells and Ko-Ko in the original productions of Gilbert and Sullivan's operettas, and who was portrayed in Topsy-Turvy as a snotty prima donna drug addict.

srah | 1:03 PM | TrackBack
Tags: books, gilbert and sullivan


Went up to school this afternoon for my weekly Spanish class, only to find that my classmates were having their conseil de classe and their class was cancelled.

Walked home in the cold and believe I caught one. Chicken noodle soup and tea for dinner ce soir, then an early bedtime. We can fight this, as we have nothing better to do.

srah | 12:57 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, health

'Tis the season

To buy me crap. But don't
if you are not, for example, my boyfriend or my mother or my aunt or my little
sister, because I will feel weird about it and I will feel guilty for not
getting you anything.

srah | 8:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bang bang!

I have checked Abbey Road out of the library. I found Maxwell's Silver Hammer a rather jolly little tune and it was moving up the Srah's Favorite Beatles Songs Chart until I actually sat down and listened to the lyrics over breakfast today, realizing that it was about a sort of serial killer who went around whacking people with the aforementioned instrument.

srah | 4:19 AM | TrackBack

December 5, 2002

C'est éxageré

Señor Tails ne sait toujours pas when the Internet will be fixed, even as we approach the one-month mark. If this hadn't been ridiculous for several weeks now, I would make the observation that this is starting to get ridiculous. Perhaps we will have it as a cadeau de Noël when we get back from the break.

Fat lot of good that does me when I can't find the lyrics to Christmas carols or a recipe for (urp!) eggnog.

srah | 11:02 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, technology

Contented assistante

Here we are at the end of my week, Thursday afternoon. It has been a marked improvement over last week. Part of this is that the students are - for some mysterious reason - behaving better than they did last week. They have been paying better attention and there has been less in common than usual between my stories about my students and Jennifer's about her eight-year-olds.

But I think another important part is that I have realized that I need to chill out and communicate with the other teachers. Sometimes if a student doesn't want to learn, I need to talk to the other teachers and see if they have the same problem with the student and what they do about it. Sometimes people just don't want to learn and there isn't much you can do. Other times, you just have to find a topic that interests them. I feel much more relaxed this week and I barely even wanted to yell at the student I usually want to hit.

Du calme, ma petite. Sois Zen.

srah | 10:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

srah: published journalist

Agnès asked me to write an article for the school paper, introducing myself to the school in English. I wrote something that seemed clever in Verdana in Microsoft Word, but seeing it published in the school paper in Comic Sans, it seems extremely dorky to have written it at all, and the things I said seem really dumb. I don't know if it's the font or the fact that I suddenly realized the whole school was reading it.

Anyway, one of the things I said was that people should feel free to say "hi" or "bonjour" to me if they see me in the hall. I just passed someone I don't remember ever seeing before, who said "hello" to me, which means that he somehow recognized me as The English Assistant. He must be from one of the classes I visited at the beginning of the year, before I had my permanent schedule, because I can't imagine that my Monstrously Large Comic Sans English Article was actually read and understood by anyone.

srah | 10:39 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, comic sans

Waiter, how do you say assortiment de fromages in English?

I went to lunch at the resto gastronomique today with Christine, the prof d'allemand who is also new this year. We both have the THOTs in class (I have all of them, she only has the three who have chosen German) and wanted to see them in action.

We didn't know each other well previously, but we had a good time talking about the world and the school. We also had a good time bothering Damien, our waiter and student, by asking him questions in English and German and asking him if he knew the German and English translations for the various foods we were eating, such as:

bisque de crustacés
carré d'agneau persillé
gratin provençal
assortiment de fromage
crème brulée à la lavande

Damien was not too bothered by our linguistic teasing to offer us a tour of the kitchen after our meal was finished. I, camera-laden as always, went around snapping pictures of the kitchen and the waitstaff, because I am a dork.

I am totally going to bring everyone I know there, and tell the waiter they don't speak French - even if they do - so that they have to practice their English serving vocabulary. Mwah ha. Evil assistante.

srah | 10:31 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, food

December 4, 2002

Yargh, the frustration

Yeah, going to see Harry Potter in English in Clermont-Ferrand would be a lot easier to do if Harry Potter was playing
in English in Clermont-Ferrand. Apparently, as it is considered a children's
movie, they are showing the dubbed version instead. I should think that
children old enough to read Harry Potter would be old enough to read subtitles
as well, but I probably just think that because I am annoyed and huffy. I
am extremely disappointed at the prospect of missing out on The Voice.

srah | 2:15 PM | TrackBack

December 3, 2002

Une place pour 'Arry Potère, SVP

Everyone else on the Internet has seen Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and it's finally my turn tomorrow, as Renata, Jennifer and I are going to Clermont for a subtitled-movie treat and some Christmas shopping. I expect to leave giggling and sighing over le Professeur Rogue.

srah | 4:12 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, harry potter, harry potter and the chamber of secrets, movies

Me blog pretty one day

Reading through posts from a year ago,
I feel as though my writing style has improved. I'm very excited - that
means that there is some positive result from blogging and that it's more
than just a dangerous obsession. Good to know.

srah | 3:43 PM | TrackBack

Benoît-Sébastien-François, meet Hélène-Lætitia-Gaëlle

The French like their hyphenated names. Marie-Pierre is a girl's name, whereas Pierre-Marie and Jean-Marie are boys. I think a good hyphenated name for my offspring would be Jérôme-Loïc. The American system already can't handle all those accents, but they do all kinds of funny things to hyphenated first names as well. I like to cause as much confusion as possible.

Speaking of names, I think Nadège is a cool one. I've heard it, but I've never actually met anyone with that name. I wonder if young girls named Nadège are often called Petit 'Dège or if I am terribly clever for having thought of it. I vote for the second one, but I bet it's the first and that if I said it to anyone named Nadège, that they would give the exasperated sigh of someone who's heard that joke all their life.

srah | 3:10 PM | TrackBack
Tags: france

Away in a Very Crowded Manger

What I loved about our church Christmas pageants when I was little was that it was the same every year. You might start out as a sheep, but by the time you were a bit older, you could have the script and the songs nearly memorized and would be all set for one of the juicy roles like Mary or a Wise Man (no one wants to be Joseph - he's boring and has to hang around with a girl). I was offered the part of Mary once, but I didn't want to be Mary to Scott Weber's Joseph. I don't know why exactly, because I don't remember really disliking him.

There is a student at Albion who I haven't seen in the four years that he's been there. This may be because I've forgotten what he looks like now. I can't think of him without remembering him at about nine years old, dressed as the third Wise Guy, following the flat, monotone delivery of "Where is he who is born King of the Jews?" and "For we have seen his star in the East..." with a very lively, animated, game-show-announcer-esque "...and are COME to WORship him!"

I was sad when our choir director left and we went through a series of new scripts and even years where there was no pageant at all. My senior year, more in the interest of tradition than in religious affairs or the church, I volunteered to direct the pageant and resurrected the script. I had the disadvantage that none of the current crop of actors knew the songs or script as well as we had, but with the church organist as Musical Director, we managed to get them singing and practicing lines and pulled off something nice.

I don't really know why I felt I had to blog about this, except that at 22 years old, I still remember big chunks of dialogue from the play. As I sat eating dinner tonight, I suddenly remembered how it made me giggle when the narrator said that the shepherds "found Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in a manger."

srah | 2:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: stories

Whofore art thou?

I was rather disappointed in myself to have hit December and still not know the names of all of my students, but I have just added up my class lists and realized that I have 197 names to memorize. Add to that the fact that I see most of them only every two weeks, and I am actually rather proud of the names and faces I can put together.

srah | 1:51 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

She did not make me drink from her special cup

When I went for my visite medicale for my carte de séjour two years ago, I was assigned to a Dr Robert and spent the whole time trying not to giggle. I have been assigned another doctor for my visite medicale on the 11th in Clermont-Ferrand, and I suspect I will have much the same problem with Dr Suss.

srah | 1:20 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

No? Never mind

Am I the only one to notice that the opening sitar chords of Love You To
are the beginning notes of the theme song from a well-known television series?
I have trouble not singing "The Simpsons..." when I hear it.

srah | 1:15 PM | TrackBack


I had a horrible dream last night where I went to a fair full of rednecks. Someone set off an illegal firework next to the parade route, which rather than going up into the air, flew across the fairgrounds and hit someone. An ambulance took off at top speed across the bumpy field, but then it too got hit by a firework. The ambulance driver jumped out of the burning truck, put a missile launcher on his shoulder, and shot at the guy who was setting off the fireworks. He missed and the missile went towards a shed.

As the missile was flying through the air, the canvas covering one wall of the shed was lifted and we discovered that the shed was full of fireworks as well. My dad and I started running, but there was nowhere to hide. We knew that when the missile hit, it would bring about the end of the world.

We went to hide behind the burning ambulance, but there was a fenced-in area full of dead bodies there. My dad thought it would be safe there, but the bodies turned out to be live, and a bunch of murderers who had been locked up behind the fence. I woke up crying because I'd been begging the murderers not to kill my dad because we were all going to die anyway and then they wouldn't go to heaven.

srah | 12:30 PM | TrackBack
Tags: dream

If anyone's counting...

We're up to three Internetless weeks today. Hurrah.

Can you think of any traditional Christmas recipes I can give to my students? I can't think of any traditional Christmas foods at all, as in the United States, Thanksgiving is our Big Food Holiday. Egg nog is gross.

srah | 9:20 AM | TrackBack

Les voisins chaleureux

You may recall the confusion some months ago when, in filling out my lease, my landlady wrote down the wrong address - 35 rather than 30. I gave the address to various important people and organizations, including the Office of International Migration and my bank, then had to go through a lot of hassle to fix it.

I am still getting mail at #35 and they are very nicely collecting it for me. Very.

I went to them, apologizing for the ridiculous situation that was producing itself, and they said that it was no problem. I got a call this weekend from Mme X (I don't know their name), saying that I had mail, so I stopped by yesterday afternoon. They invited me into the house, had me sit down and warm up, and offered me coffee. When I declined, they asked if I was fasting for Ramadan. "Oh well," they said, when I denied it, "We can't all be Muslim. But we're all Muslim in our own way." I hadn't really realized that they were, but that made them offering me coffee all the nicer - they were willing to offer it to me even if they couldn't have any.

They have a son in Florida and they, I believe, are immigrants themselves, so they told me that they know what it's like to be all alone in a strange country and that if I need anything - if I want to come over for dinner or need a place to stay - I should stop by and ring the bell and they will take good care of me as if I were family.

They are really too kind, and I don't know what to do to thank them. Here I am, dumb girl who's getting mail at their house, and they want to offer me all kinds of hospitality.

srah | 2:41 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

December 2, 2002

Je ne sais pas si vous l'avez pigé, mais je collectionne les citations

I bought a bag of papillotes, a French Christmas candy. They are lovely chocolates in fancy wrappers that are supposed to resemble papillons but look rather like British Christmas crackers. The chocolate is yummy and delicious, but my favorite part is that each papillote has a quote wrapped around the chocolate. I have found one that I think should become my motto or something like it, because it is exactly what I strive for in my blog and everywhere else:

"Le talent consiste à dire les mêmes bêtises que les autres, mais plus élégamment..."
- Philippe Bouvard

srah | 4:54 AM | TrackBack
Tags: food, quote

Step right up!

I've decided to start charging money for people to sit and watch me type, as I am apparently some sort of circus freak. The sad thing is, I'm not really complaining because I like attention.

srah | 4:41 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, cybercafe

December 1, 2002

This and other questions...

This has been bothering me all day long: Why is Pet Sematary spelled that way?

srah | 1:07 PM | TrackBack

The Anti-Social

The only response so far to my request for inspiration comes from Jez, who very sensitively would like to know why I don't have any friends.

Okay, okay, that's not exactly what he suggested. I am to write on the inaccessibility of the French.

Part of the problem here, I will admit, is the inaccessibility of the srah. Srah, being someone rather uninterested in sports or music, does not have many ways to reach out to the French. She can't think of any clubs she'd like to join, as her interests lie in more solitary pursuits such as reading and the Internet. She is also not one to strike up conversations with strangers in the street and prefers sitting in a bar or café and chatting with friends until midnight to going to a boîte at midnight (also known as "bedtime" in srah-land) and getting her groove on.

There is also the fact that she is not alone. She is lucky enough to have two other Americans and the other non-French assistants who are going through many of the same things and so therefore have things in common to discuss. None of them know any French people either, so they all hang together.

This safety net of other assistants, however, is nearly as detrimental as it is helpful. Srah is not forced to meet French people because she already has friends. The other assistants are doing the same thing and are patient with her sometimes incomprehensible French because they have the same problems. With friends like that, who needs the French, who sometimes laugh or don't want to wait for a sentence to slowly form itself is srah's bouche?

Hanging around with other foreigners, even when the common language is French, is comfortable and easy. But what everyone should be doing, especially in a foreign culture, is looking for challenges and not taking the easy way out.

Vichy is a particular case. There is a small university campus in town and I am told that students study there, but they are nowhere to be seen, especially on the weekends when srah and friends do not work and can go French-hunting. They go home for the weekend and we are left with les vieux.

My second-year BTS students invited me out with them once, but I wasn't particularly glowing and charming, so I don't suppose I'll be asked again. It was one of those situations where the conversation moves too fast for me to participate, so I just listen and watch along, as though I were watching a tennis match. As a result, I only spoke when I was spoken to and was not a particularly thrilling companion.

Well, that's about all I can say on that subject. I have come to no conclusion except that EVERYTHING seems to be against me meeting the French and that I should probably spend more time hanging around the school, so that I can have conversations of a professional nature with other teachers, without the pressure of socialization.

srah | 12:53 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, france

Knives? Chains? Potatoes?

What on earth is Gangs of New York about? I don't understand a thing of the plot from the French-dubbed previews. From what I can tell, it recounts the famous Battle Of The People In Comical Hats. As Daniel Day-Lewis' side is wearing top hats and Leonardo diCaprio seems to be wearing something resembling an ancestor of the modern baseball cap, I have to assume that the battle was really over which was to be the Hat Of The Future and Leo is the triumphant one in the end.

I think that the movie and the divisions between the gangs might be slightly easier to understand in VO because I bet they've all got comical ethnic accents as befits the time period. I think Leonardo is supposed to be an Irishman with the very Irish name of Amsterdam, but I don't know if it's the battle of old vs. new immigrants or between two groups of new ones. Or possibly it really is all about the hats.

Care to enlighten me?

srah | 4:54 AM | TrackBack
Tags: movies

¿Hay alguien aquí que hable inglés?

It came up in conversation that I might like to sit in on a class while I am here, as I have nothing better to do. I chose Spanish and sat in on Friday. I learned a lot and I think it would be good for me, but it was frustrating because

a) They constructed sentences much better than I can and
b) They were interested and participating.

There is nothing more frustrating than working with students for hours and getting nothing out of them, then seeing them working well and happily in another subject. This is the lot of the English teacher, whose language is mandatory and therefore detested. In elective Spanish and German classes, the students may not pay attention or participate from time to time, but they are there because they chose to be and will at least respond when spoken to.

I envy Stefan and Andrés even more now.

srah | 2:20 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, classwork, spanish

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