February 2003 archive

(82 entries)

February 27, 2003

This is not a Magritte exhibit

Mummy and I went to the Magritte exhibit at the Jeu de Paume today. Magritte is my favorite artist, but it's very difficult to see so much of his work in one place. If there's only one or two, you can stand in front of them for hours, trying to understand (and usually failing). With hundreds of paintings, sculptures and photographs, you only get a chance to cast puzzled glances or make surface observations. I'm not sure if a Magritte exhibit is a good idea, but it was nice to see things that are normally in private collections.

srah | 3:17 PM | TrackBack
Tags: art, magritte, travel

February 25, 2003

The town is full of Scotsmen...

... some of whom are wearing skirts. There's a series of France-Scotland rugby matches going on in Paris at the moment, and between the games the Scots go out sightseeing in their kilts. We even saw an ugly little dog in a kilt. I find myself walking up the Metro steps behind a 60+ Scotsman, willing myself not to look up for fear of what I might see.

srah | 4:23 PM | TrackBack
Tags: travel

February 23, 2003


I dreamt last night that I was in a ski station and there was an avalanche. The snow kept falling and there would be blue flashes like when you bite a wint-o-green Life Saver. Apparently it was the Worst Avalanche Ever.

As soon as the snow settled, the Jews came out with their banners, claiming that the avalanche was a sign from God that Israel belonged to them. Then the Muslims appeared with their banners, saying that it was a sign that Palestine belonged to them. Then the Christians showed up with their banners - not to put a claim on the Holy Land but just to sing songs and generally be chiants. The Italians showed up with banners too, but I don't know what they wanted.

I was pissed off that everyone was trying to profiter de l'avalanche and that I couldn't get to the stupid garbage can to take the stupid garbage out and that I didn't know if Philippe had been killed in the avalanche or if he was hiding from me. I went to the kitchen where my grandma was and I was so mad that I threw an empty beer bottle at the wall, where it shattered. Then I had to go pick up all of the little pieces of glass because I realized Grandma didn't have slippers on.

srah | 4:25 PM | TrackBack
Tags: dream

Dirty-minded American

I thought the little girl in the train from Grenoble to Paris said of her inflatable toy "Non, c'est un fourmis. L'extra-terrestre était violé." No, it was violet. Too many Raelians... I'm confused.

srah | 5:31 AM
Tags: french

February 22, 2003


I had a dream last night that was disappointingly easy to interpret. I was shopping for prom dresses with Robin, Cheryl and Harini, but the saleswoman kept bringing us suits instead, then we had to model them across the pont at Valéry Larbaud. When we were done, we sat down to have a cup of tea with Philippe, who was speaking very bad English.

I am disappointed that my dream was not as insane and uninterpretable as usual. Clearly I want to remain in a high school frame of mind instead of growing up and I am feeling guilty about always speaking French to Philippe when he wantes to practice his English.

srah | 3:57 PM | TrackBack
Tags: dream

Euro pudding

It is always an adventure to bring together a bunch of people with varied language skills. We went to lunch at my host family's house in Grenoble today and brought together during the course of the afternoon my parents and grandmother, who speak no French, Jean-Pierre and his mother, who speak no English, and varying levels of biligualism from Bon Papa, Gaëlle, Denis, Françoise, Sophie and me. Bon Papa - to my surprise - knows enough English to as where my family was from and to sortir d'autres phrases throughout the day as needed. Gaëlle prefers Spanish to English. Denis prefers making fun of his mother's English to speaking it himself. Françoise se debrouille très bien en anglais, which is a good thing because the two heavyweights - who should have been translating for the benefit of all the others - were wandering off and having their own conversations in French. Shame!

srah | 1:31 PM | TrackBack
Tags: language, travel

Alpine longing

I don't miss things when they're gone. I miss them in advance and I miss them retroactively when I see them again. To some extent, it's the same with people.

Every time I come back to Grenoble, I find myself missing the Alps again. One of these times, I'm going to steal them in the dead of the night and take them with me.

srah | 10:53 AM | TrackBack
Tags: alps, grenoble, study abroad, travel

February 21, 2003

No soucis, I'll try to improve

I'm not a very good English assistant.

After we went to Super-Besse, Philippe complained to Agnès that I spent all weekend speaking French. Agnès replied that she didn't have any better luck herself - I was always speaking French to her as well.

Yesterday I told the TH2s I wanted to take a picture of them before they left for their stages. They looked at me blankly and I had to repeat in French.

I ought to be refusing to speak French. I ought to be pretending I don't speak French. I ought to have made all the students who've served me in the resto gastro speak English to me. But it's so much easier to drop into French and get my point across instead of repeating myself eleven times to blank stares and lost interest. I am rather selfish and lazy and often more interested in communication than in improving people's English. I wonder if I would even be reaccepted if I applied.

srah | 4:25 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

Wo bu chi fromage

We went out to se taper une fondue tonight in Grenoble, and have something typically regional and alpine. We went to the Restaurant des Montagnes and ordered our first course before a group of eight Chinese peple came and were seated at the table next to ours. It was evident rather quickly that none of them spoke French, so my mom encouraged me to help them out, as they did speak English. My mom, like Alex, is someone who helps people in trouble. I admire it, but I'm not like them. I'm more likely to just watch, knowing that I could help but being too shy to offer my services.

So I got up and translated the menu and answered questions. The waitresses had clearly not had a Valéry Larbaud education (or maybe they clearly had...), so they spoke almost no English, and I had to give the orders to them as well.

The Chinese were full of questions. Questions like, "Which things on the menu don't have cheese?" Whereas we were in a fondue restaurant. Fondue, raclette, tartiflette... all kinds of cheesy goodness. Here they were, coming from a culture that doesn't eat cheese and often finds it repulsive, trying to find something in a fondue restaurant that would please them.

At one point, the Chinese were upset because they had not been served yet. So it was up to me to translate their displeasure to the waitresses. It was up to me to diplomatically translate between China and France, reminding them that I was only the translator and that no one should shoot the messenger, even if she is American.

Everything worked out pretty okay. One waitress looked like she was ready to posion them and another jokingly begged me not to leave when we'd finished our own dessert. I hope everything went well after we left...

srah | 4:25 PM | TrackBack
Tags: fondue, translation, travel

Thoughts from the bathroom

S'il y avait pas de PQ, Ça me ferait pas chier.

I'm not even going to translate it into English, because it's not funny in English. It's hardly funny in French.

In other linguistic news that is only humorous to myself, the word "transpire" means "happen" in English and "sweat" in French.

srah | 10:05 AM | TrackBack
Tags: french

Une srah, ça bouge!

The main difference between this trip and our trip a year and a half ago seems to be the pace of it. Instead of Daddy, Becky and I trekking along and Mommy trying to keep up, it is Grandma and Mommy walking at their bad-kneed pace and Daddy and me suddenly turning around to discover we've left them in our dust.

srah | 9:14 AM | TrackBack
Tags: travel

Raising a stink

I should have taken the garbage out before leaving Vichy. Pyew.

srah | 9:06 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

Sarah, with an English R

I was a bit concerned about taking The Fam to the restaurant gastronomique yesterday because it is exam period and the students would be graded on their service. I didn't want to make it more difficult or stressful for them, so I considered cancelling our reservation, but their service teacher, M. Merlino, wanted butts in seats, so we came.

Our server was E. I don't know why I feel like I need to protect his anonymity when I never do with any of my other servers in the resto gastro, but voilà. He handed us the menu and I started translating it for my family.

"Gnocchi parisienne... gnocchi is a sort of potato pasta dumpling. Then we have ragoût de lapereau. Ragoût is a stew, lapereau is... uh-oh. Geez, I don't know." I turned to E. "C'est quoi, lapereau?"

"Rabbit," he replied, and continued speaking English throught the meal, asking if we had finished our courses, if we wanted more wine, etc. He even called my father "sir", when we'd had the lesson on the difference between "sir" and "mister" only two weeks before.

I was impressed and proud to find that one of my students could se debrouiller so well in an English-speaking situation - especially one whose voice I never hear in class. Especially when he didn't have to - he could have depended on me to act as translator throughout the meal. I hope he got a good grade on service - I know I'll put in a good word with his English teacher!

srah | 9:05 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, english, food, srahfam, teaching, teaching restaurant

Next on Jerry Springer: I'm sleeping with my grandmother

It's not so much that I had anything to say as I wanted to use that title. The Fam has arrived and have mostly recovered from jet lag, although somehow it has transferred to me. It may be constant-translation fatigue, but I am worn out! So you will have to wait until tomorrow for la suite.

srah | 6:17 AM | TrackBack

February 19, 2003

Demi Moore on the pot

We watched Ghost on TV last night in the same way we watch all French-dubbed American movies - mostly talking and occasionally glancing at the screen to make fun on whatever's going on.

We are all perplexed as to how Patrick Swayze was ever considered attractive. It must have been an 80s thing. His acting skills are somewhere between Kevin Costner and Keanu Reeves and when he's trying to act sad, he scrunches up his face and looks unnervingly similar to George W. Bush. It is really freaky.

I have to stop writing now, because all I can think of is "DIGRESSION!".

srah | 5:38 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, movies, patrick swayze

The Assistant in the Blé

"I don't exactly know what I mean by that, but I mean it."

I've read The Catcher in the Rye before, but I guess I didn't get it. I quite enjoyed it this time, and it made me laugh. Maybe the last time I was too caught up in being a teenager myself to appreciate Holden's blatant confused, angry, frustrated, annoyed adolescence.

srah | 5:32 AM | TrackBack
Tags: adolescence, books, the catcher in the rye

February 18, 2003

Poor little town

Sometimes I suspect that people don't realize that Vichy still exists. The phrase "Vichy France" comes up often enough, but I suspect that people don't realize the regime is named after the town and that the town is still around. They certainly don't realize it's famous for anything else... except maybe the soup. To look at the town, you certainly wouldn't suspect that it was once the capital of France.

There's really no point here, or connection between my sentences. I just felt I had to blog something because I was looking for other blogs in Vichy and all I came up with was a lot of name-calling and finger-pointing. Let's move on.

srah | 8:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

Kissing is good. So is blogging.

Blogs are supposed to be about linking or something like that, I hear. So here is a link. Which is, of course, stolen, because that is the other requisite for blogs. Is requisite a word?

[via mybluehouse]

srah | 6:24 AM | TrackBack

So little time...

So much to do before Mummy, Daddums, and Grandmummy arrive. They get into Charles de Gaulle (the airport, not the dead former president) tomorrow at 1pm. We will take the train back to Vichy, they will eat and sleep, then Thursday I shall show them All There Is To See In Vichy. After those 15 minutes are over, they shall have Lunch In The Gastronomical Restaurant, a Tour Of The School, and Dinner Chez Agnès. I hope I will take blog-notes while I'm travelling, but we shall see.

srah | 3:49 AM | TrackBack
Tags: travel

And it's on Blogspot!

Dave Barry has a blog.

srah | 3:39 AM | TrackBack

The Monday Mission

1. What do you like to eat for breakfast? Do you even eat breakfast?
I often have a pain au lait aux pépites de chocolat. Today I had baguette with apricot jam. Thé au lait goes without saying.

2. What was the song that "blew your mind" and is etched in your brain forever? Recall the moment and why it remains in your mind.
For heaven's sake, Promo, I don't know if there is one. I am perhaps not as affected by music as you. I still remember the first time I heard Maurice Ravel's "Bolero" and Carmen told us he went insane and I could see why but I loved it anyway. So... that.

3. Do you like to gamble? Have you ever won (or lost) big?
I won $20,000 at the casino. Unfortunately, the Chileans also use the $ sign for pesos, so it was actually the equivalent of US$30. I don't like to gamble that much, but I was much amused to have won.

4. What do you turn to for comfort when you are troubled or worried?
Bed and chocolate.

5. When was the last time you felt apathetic? What was it about?
I am apathetic about so many things that I don't really feel like writing them down.

6. I just read that Google bought Pyra Labs (Blogger.com). Although Blogging was going "mainstream" before this, it most certainly will now have greater exposure, and one assumes, bring us even more Bloggers. Is this a good thing?
I think it is a good thing to have more bloggers. I'll have more blogs to read. It might bring a lot of boring bloggers, but it will sans doute bring some new good ones too. Mostly I would look forward to blogging going mainstream just so I wouldn't have to explain it to people!

7. What did you do with all your freetime before you blogged?
God only knows. I must have watched TV.

srah | 3:24 AM | TrackBack
Tags: memes, monday mission

Post in a southern accent

Je bosse demaing mating pour gagner mon paing quotidieng. And as long as we're at it, I'll have that bread with some ving from St-Pourçaing.

It would have been amusing to have been placed somewhere where people talked like that. In the Bourbonnais, we just have odd expressions like ça neige.

srah | 3:15 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, french

'Do you think I tamper with children? I am, after all, a priest!'

I am reading The Thorn Birds. Now I want to watch the series and go to Australia to see all the interesting furry animals and hear the interesting place names and vocabulary. I want to hear people say things like "Jims! Look! A dinkum Drogheda budgie!".

srah | 3:12 AM | TrackBack
Tags: books

February 17, 2003

Alt+F4 to exit

I'm going to graduate school to learn how to make web sites based on the principles of information science. I hope that my sites will be simple yet attractive, practical and easily navigable. The point will be for information to be accessed in the most convenient way possible. In other words, they will be everything that this isn't.

No one told me the school had a website. And it's not the type of thing I could have found out for myself, since there's no text to come up in search engines. I am disappointed that I am not prominently featured - in fact, enseignement générale is pretty well overlooked. You may, however, gaze upon the visages of my students Aude, Haouess and Sylvain. I would link to their individual pages but, as previously mentioned, this site is a mutant and has no pages.

Note: I suggest that you choose the full-screen version (affichage plein écran), because otherwise you will keep hitting the Back key like an idiot and being transported back to the index page. Not that this happened to me personally about a thousand times or anything. To go up one level, click Sommaire. To close the full-screen version, hit Alt+F4.

srah | 11:03 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, school of information, technology

I don't think I've even seen The Mummy fifteen times

This is at least the fifteenth time I've seen the same video on Martin Luther King. I think it might be the last, and I am overjoyed. Around the fifth time, I started picking out ways I would have edited it differently. By the ninth time, I finally understood what they were saying when they said "Marlon Brando" with a French accent. By the fifteenth time, I have large chunks of narration memorized. If you have any questions about Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, James Meredith, or Les Cinq de Little Rock, pose-les-moi. If I am not the world's expert on the Civil Rights Movement, I am at least the world's expert on This Particular Video.

srah | 3:12 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

It's nice to be noticed

My favorite bus of the week is the 8:09 Monday one. The internes all pile onto the bus at the train station, the stop right after mine, and for a few minutes, I am The Most Popular Girl In The Bus. Today I was greeted by every single person who got on at that stop.

srah | 2:14 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship


I dreamt I was at the emergency room and I couldn't get to the desk because there was a gaggle of rednecks trying to hand in job applications. One of them asked me to babysit for her kid, although I thought at first that she wanted me to babysit for her husband. I refused, but then I met the kid, who was fourteen and very serious and mature. I liked him, so I took the job.

One day when I was babysitting him, we went to a mall that was inside of Valéry Larbaud and full of optician's shops. We ran into Latrina, who was upset because I never email her to tell her what's going on in my life. I told her I was working in France and I was just home for my break. She was upset because she thought the kid was my new boyfriend and no one had told her that Alex and I broke up.

Next part I remember, I was taking a picture of Celine, Aline, Sebastien and Cheryl in front of a yard full of snakes, including pythons, cobras, and all kinds of awful things. No one but me seemed to be terribly concerned. Cheryl kicked a snake that was short and wide and looked more like a dinosaur's head than a snake.

srah | 1:51 AM | TrackBack
Tags: dream

February 16, 2003

No llevé pantalones

It seems like I can't go on a trip without leaving something behind. Do you feel the same way? I get where I'm going and discover that I didn't bring a pen to write my journal with, a toothbrush, or deodorant. This weekend it was pyjamas. I will be happy tonight not to sleep in the smoke-infused hoodie I've been wearing all weekend.

srah | 3:48 PM | TrackBack
Tags: travel

Holding my liquor

I decided that since there was so much alcohol available this weekend, I was going to make a point of trying everything in the chalet, just so I would know what it tastes like. I'm always nervous about ordering alcohol in bars if I've never tried it, because I still have to pay for it even if it's undrinkable.

So last night, I had rum and Coke, three glasses of white wine, whisky, Malibu and pineapple juice, vermouth, a screwdriver, and two mugs of mulled wine. Renata and Jennifer were surprised to see how well I held all of that alcohol, but it's true that I managed to spread the taste-testing efforts out over the whole evening and ate and drank other things while I was at it. They said that they couldn't tell much of a difference from usual. I, unlike certain Nelson people who Nelson will not Nelson be named, did not climb on the table and do a striptease, then end the evening falling on my head and trying to throw myself into the fireplace.

srah | 12:45 PM | TrackBack
Tags: alcohol, assistantship

February 15, 2003

What's snew

We are in a chalet. It is wooden and spacious and ultra-charming. It is full of alcohol and assistants.

srah | 4:25 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

You know you want to... everybody's doing it...

I am the only assistante vichyssoise who tricote pas. There must be something in the water, or it's the influence of being surrounded by mémés for months. I'm beginning to think I'm going to have to take it up, just due to peer pressure.

srah | 6:43 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

Rapid I movement

I've moved! Mme Messana showed up yesterday morning and said, "Can you move today? They want to start on your apartment." I got everything into the apartment next door rather quickly, then sorted it all out and was finished by 2pm. The new room is slightly larger, better-lit, and the shower is not in the kitchen, as previously feared, as they extended the bathroom out into the room and built a wall around it. I don't like to think I've lost an oven, so much as... gained a freezer. I can have ice cream, even if I can't make cookies anymore. All in all, I am pretty satisfied with the move.

srah | 6:30 AM | TrackBack
Tags: apartment, assistantship, moving

February 14, 2003


I dreamt that I ran into Le Yu in the rain at the bus stop in front of Valéry Larbaud. We ran and hugged each other in a big dramatic embrace. She never told me what she was doing there and I found it odd that she was in France because she had taken Latin in high school.

Later, I was in a department store with my parents. I had a giant tomato and a saleswoman was coveting it. When I went downstairs, I noticed that it was starting to get squishy and rotten so I had to take it upstairs to ask the saleswoman who had been coveting it to take it and dispose of it. She was dressed as a tree.

srah | 2:40 AM | TrackBack
Tags: dream

February 13, 2003

Are you sick of me translating yet?

I had forgotten about Lost in Translation, which transforms the quote from yesterday into

"I bark that she lives in England, because in all the diverse part that disowned and disowned is. The only language, that one that I speak, I am English: They had fallen of the French in the school and I made the examinación of the jump with the sport of the square in the place. Also hour, during the buttock of the years, my reaction instinktive to the French of hearing a piedino in the sky is due to unload and to fit in the action according to the low walls of the garden. But it would not appreciate this, all the same east thought that you did not appreciate external. The external ways the adventure and the food she danger and she koestliche of the possibility, but come external on the other hand, to totally obtain the confusion to itself tired and and of the country of extrangeiro, of that the legend you to that the series is opened, if is not. "

srah | 10:54 AM | TrackBack
Tags: language

Bob Barker wants YOU

Yesterday, between all of the adorable little caniches I saw in the street that begged to be petted and cuddled and my fellow moviegoers at the Harry Potter screening, I decided that we have it all wrong. We should be spaying and neutering our neighbors and letting the puppies flower and multiply in abundance.

The family behind me had somewhere from 3 to 8 kids. I couldn't tell, because they were moving around throughout the whole movie. And kicking my chair. And kicking other chairs in my row so mine bounced along with them. And walking up and down their row, smacking me in the head as they went by. And talking loudly about how Dobby was really ugly and they wanted him off the screen. And throwing paper over my seat. I would have wondered how someone could raise such unruly children, but I didn't have to, because they were attended by parents who had also never had lessons on How To Behave In Public. Certainly they had never had lessons on How To Behave In A Movie Theater, because every time a kid wouldn't sit down or wouldn't shut up, the mother would scream, "BEHAVE YOURSELF," or "SIT DOWN RIGHT NOW OR I'LL HIT YOU," not only not whispering, but not speaking in a normal indoor voice, either.

Harry Potter is not a children's movie, although many parents have this mistaken impression. Eight, nine, ten year old children, yes. Children who know how to behave themselves in public, yes. But it is not a movie for four year olds who will be frightened by Dobby, let alone the enormous scary spider attacks. I dream of a world where there would be "no children" showings of Harry Potter that people like me could go to.

srah | 5:48 AM | TrackBack
Tags: children, harry potter, harry potter and the chamber of secrets, movies

Can I buy my tickets yet?

The IMDb summary for Dougie Henshall's next film (also starring Sean Penn, Joaquin Phoenix and Clare Danes) reads:

It's All About Love is the story of two lovers and their attempts to save their relationship in a near-future world on the brink of cosmic collapse. John, and world-famous ice skating star, Elena, are about to sign divorce papers when they realise that, in spite of everything happening around them, their love is worth fighting for. It's All About Love is a fresh take on modern love and future life as two lovers struggle in a conspiracy of epic proportions.

I believe this will be the Greatest Movie Ever Made.

srah | 5:27 AM | TrackBack
Tags: douglas henshall, movies

I am right

Lookie there... I just said Scottish was the sexiest accent, and the Scotsman agrees.

[via Manda Mia]

srah | 5:22 AM | TrackBack

3x Thursday

I've never done this meme before, but the questions appealed to me.

1. What is the one country on the planet that you would like to visit but have never been to?
One? Only one? I defy you, 3x Thursday Creator! Iceland, Peru, Cambodia,
Egypt, Mexico, Bulgaria, Norway, Sweden, Ireland, Kenya, Japan, Turkey, Italy,
Costa Rica, French Guyana, Morocco, Vietnam... may I continue? 2. If you had to pick another country to be born and raised in besides your native one what one would it be?
Luxembourg, Canada, or Belgium. I would like to have been raised in a multilingual
country, so I would have a head start on language aquisition. At least I
think I would. 3. What country actually really scares the hell out of you? The US of A, bien sûr.

Bonus Question for comments: What do you think is the sexiest accent know to human kind?
There are many. We shall say Glaswegian, but there are many other fine
accents in Scotland and in the rest of the UK. I like Liverpudlians. A
French one can also be sexy, depending on a variety of factors which I have previously discussed. I like it when they say "cahn't".

I just realized this was the Bonus Question for comments.
Too late, I have answered it here. Must learn to read.

srah | 3:42 AM | TrackBack

La plombería del apartamento al lado del mío

God only knows what I've just said in Spanish.

I think they've finished the apartment next door, which is rather odd because they'd only been at it two days. It sort of frightens me because I don't see how they could fit the shower in the bathroom without knocking out some walls, so I fear they may have just plonked the it down in the middle of the kitchen.

The plumber asked me last night if I could switch apartments today. Yeah, like it's that simple. And yeah, like I didn't have to work. I'm kind of hoping I won't have to move before February vacation, but at least it would give me an excuse for my room being messy...

srah | 3:05 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, construction, housing, in spanish

February 12, 2003

Plumbers at the crack of dawn

So much for my nice Wednesday grasse matinée. Apparently they did not finish the shower yesterday, so they are back this morning. I've said it before and I'll say it again: that room is cursed and the entire building is the epicenter of All Things Weird in Vichy.

srah | 4:25 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, housing, vichy


I had a dream where I was supposed to teach the S2OLs in two groups. I was late to class to teach the first group, who I was going to force to like Dave Matthews Band. When I got there, I discovered that someone had turned on a TV and Whose Line Is It Anyway? was on and everyone - including Agnès - was glued to the screen. When it was over, some blond student in a suit - who looked like the blond bartender at Le Comptoir - had a bunch of questions. I don't remember if they were in French or English.

Then I had to go to the second group, which was full of people who didn't belong there, like Encarna (the Spanish assistant from Moulins), her French boyfriend Loîc, and Cheryl, old friend of mine and frequent blahblaher. We were all sitting and lying on a mattress and no one was saying anything, so I made them tell me what they wanted for Christmas. Philippe wanted peace on Earth and a successful year for his parents' optical shop. Cheryl said, "I want a Degous. It's a baby. But it's not. It has paint on it. I would make it drink paint." Everyone was confused and shocked by whatever Cheryl was talking about, but she didn't get a chance to explain before the plumbers woke me up.

srah | 4:25 PM | TrackBack
Tags: dream

All I do is quote

"I like living in England because everywhere else is foreign and strange. The only language I speak is English: I dropped French at school and took up hurdling with the athletic team instead. Even now, in later years, my instinctive reaction on hearing French is to jerk one leg in the air and propel myself towards low garden walls. But I wouldn't like anyone to think that I don't like Abroad. I do. Abroad means adventure and the possibility of danger and delicious food, but Abroad is also tiring and confusing and full of foreigners who tell you that the bank is open when it's not."
- True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole, Margaret Hilda Roberts and Susan Lilian Townsend, by Sue Townsend

srah | 7:40 AM | TrackBack
Tags: books, quote

One year later

Eric is still conveying emotions. The Lord of the Rings has been nominated again. I still prefer paczkis to Louisiana.

Very little changes around here.

srah | 7:08 AM | TrackBack

February 11, 2003

La Floride

Florida seems to be Vichy's collective favorite state. Everyone I meet seems to have a brother or an uncle or a cousin who lives there, which brings us to one of two conclusions: that Vichy is seriously inbred, or that Florida is teeming with Froggies. Judging from the quality of the French PA announcements in the Miami airport, I'm tempted to lean towards the former.

srah | 5:06 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

Why do they all take ice cream on vacation?

Scattergories did not erupt into chaos with the THOTs, as I suppose it had the potential to do. There was, rather predictably, a fair amount of classmates' names appearing in the categories "something scary", "something very heavy", and "something that makes a loud noise". Luckily I recognized the giggles and realized the maturity level I was working with in time to skip over "something that smells bad".

There were a large number of "Nevada"s when they were asked for a US state, which surprised me because if I were trying to name US states, I think Nevada is one of the last ones I would have remembered.

srah | 3:54 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

Why does my bathroom smell like it's on fire?

The plumber accosted me as I got out of the shower in the hallway this morning. "I need to talk to you... later," he said, realizing I was wearing a towel. Once I was presentable I came out into the hallway to see what was up.

He had come to install the shower in the apartment next door, and proposed to put one in mine while he was at it.

"Um... I have to go to work," I protested weakly, "and Mme Messana said you were going to do that one, move me into it, then do mine.."

"No, that's okay, we can just pop one in right now," he offered.

"Um, isn't there something wrong with the plumbing in here?" I thought I remembered.

"Oh, that's right, the plumbing has to be completely redone in here."

I'm glad he didn't get started and then realize that! And I'm glad he didn't just "pop" one in anyway, because the aforementioned exchange occurred at 10am and they are still working on the one next door, hence the loud radio music in the hall and the small of welding torches or soldering irons wafting through the bathroom vents.

On a nearly completely unrelated note, my opticians have to solder, and their English assistant has to explain how the word is pronounced "sodder" but spelt "solder". Joy.

srah | 12:21 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, housing

I give up

Becky and Cheryl have been sending me these things for months, so I have finally broken down and made a quiz of my own. How much do you know about me?

srah | 11:33 AM | TrackBack
Tags: quizzes

More fun with translation services

If you translate my blog from French to English, you will discover that

Jennifer always has good drunk stop stories. Weird things happen to her At the drunk stop.

Another good one is

Andrés: (in Spanish) You' D better watch it, but I' ll cuts to find has new girlfriend.
Srah: Ahhhh! That should not be said! You will begin rumours!

Never mind, I'm amusing myself anyway.

srah | 8:48 AM | TrackBack
Tags: language, translation

I love online translation systems

Would you be interested in translating my blog into really bad French?

Just for your information,

Je suis Sarah, connu sous le nom de srah. Je suis le Michigan, Etats-Unis, mais je travaille en tant qu'aide anglais dans Vichy, France cette année, et dépends fortement de parler (et de blogging) dans les franglais . Si vous ne comprenez pas un mot ou une expression, l'essai mousing-au-dessus de, et la traduction en anglais devraient sauter vers le haut.

and also

Soy Sarah, conocido como srah. Soy de Michigan, los E.E.U.U., pero estoy trabajando como ayudante inglesa en Vichy, Francia este año, y estoy dependiendo pesadamente del discurso (y de blogging) en franglais . Si usted no entiende una palabra o una frase, el intento mousing-sobre, y la traducción inglesa deben hacer estallar para arriba.

srah | 8:39 AM | TrackBack
Tags: language, translation

Conversation in the hallway

Andrés: (in Spanish) You didn't say hi to me when you passed me!
Srah: Si, pero esta... esta... estaba... étais?
Andrés: Estabas.
Srah: Si. Tu estabas... es... enseñando.
Andrés: (in Spanish) You'd better watch it, or I'll have to find a new girlfriend.
Srah: Ahhhh! Il faut pas dire ça! Tu vas commencer des rumeurs!

Bow in awe at my Spanish skills. I am talented.

srah | 6:06 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, in spanish

Hooray for socialism!

Although one might grumble occasionally about receiving 750€ after taxes on one's 950€ monthly salary, one learns to accept it. One might apply for aide au logement on a whim to see if one is eligible for anything worthwhile. It is thus quite exciting when one discovers that not only will one receive monthly payments of an amount sufficient to refund all but 9€ of one's rent, but that one will also be reimbursed for all of the months before one got around to applying. One is rich! One may not have to prostitute oneself to pay for grad school after all!

srah | 4:38 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, housing, taxes


My dreams last night were full of blasts from the past.

In the first one I remember, I was sleeping and when I woke up, someone was kissing me. I didn't want to kiss him back because I thought it was Joe Mangan. If I woke up and discovered someone was kissing me, I don't know why I would assume it was Joe Mangan because I've barely seen him since middle school and even then he wasn't really anyone I wanted kissing me. I was flattered that Joe wanted to kiss me, but I didn't want to kiss him back. When I woke up a bit more, I realized it was Alex and we were on a camping trip.

During the next part, I think I was at some sort of pep rally. I sat next to Jenn Sautter but I was supposed to be meeting Jen Dively so I sent her a texto on my cell phone and she replied that she wasn't coming after all. Jenn Sautter was disgusted because I didn't know anyone at the pep rally, including Albion's sprinters from the Track team, who were apparently The Shit.

A float went by, tossing inflatable plastic animals into the crowd and I got a very adorable dog that everyone was fighting over. I hugged it and told Jenn, "I don't care about anything at this pep rally. I only care about my dog." I buried my face in the dog to try to escape everything around me. Next thing I remember, my inflatable dog had become two inflatable monkeys, which held hands and walked across the grass all by themselves. They had less success on carpet, but I don't know why I knew that because we were outside.

I watched them for a while, then I ended up at the back of the pep rally where a bunch of other people were ignoring it to listen to Lindsay Roe's CDs. Robin and I were annoyed because Lindsay was being bossy and wouldn't let us look at her photo albums so we could see what she'd been up to since we graduated from high school.

srah | 2:42 AM | TrackBack
Tags: dream

February 10, 2003

Comic post turns sad

On our walk yesterday, Renata was Brian Fellowe. And the goat was a donkey. If you understand what that means, I salute you.

And now all of a sudden I miss my grandpa, because he would have gotten it too.

srah | 3:54 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, grandpa, saturday night live, tv

Please do not repossess due to undeservedness

Why am I so lucky? And why can't this post wait four days? The answers are: I dunno and Because.

I am struck tonight by how lucky I am to have my Pato, when so many other people out there are in bad relationships or no relationships. Why am I so lucky as to have found Alex right away when other people struggle for years looking for love? What makes me so special? Sometimes I get concerned because I don't feel like I've done anything to deserve my luck. There are probably a lot of people out there who deserve to be happy more than I do.

srah | 3:52 PM | TrackBack
Tags: boys

ET texto home

I love textos. I get to carry around my cell phone like the amusing little techno-gadget that it is, but I can avoid spoken conversation. Impeccable!

srah | 3:46 PM | TrackBack
Tags: technology, text messages

Beauty incarnate

First we catch a glimpse of a blister on her heel. Pan up to weak, wobbly painful ankles. Lets that have not been shaved in a few weeks. Yellow flannel pyjama pants with pictures of postcards on them, rolled up to the knees so as to avoid accidentally touching the raw, painful heel. A hoodie with the hood pulled up. Under the hoodie, hair in a messy bun and some nice thick, dirty glasses.

Yes, we really make an effort here at Casa Srah.

srah | 3:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Creative thinking

I am planning on playing, with the THOTs, a bastardized form of Scattergories, with no specified letter for the words to begin with - just having to find words that fit into categories and getting points for finding words that are not the same answers everyone else gave. In preparation, I shall share with you my own answers.

Something that makes you happy sauerkraut
Something that is scary George W. Bush
Something that is yellow lemon pudding
Something that is very heavy a boat
Something that is found in a kitchen a flour sifter
Something that costs less than one Euro a pain au chocolat
Something that you shouldn't eat if you are on a diet a pain au chocolat
Something that can be found on a table in a restaurant elbows
Something that moves very slowly an hour hand on a clock
Something that you wear on your hands hand lotion
A state in the USA New Mexico (everyone will say Michigan... or I hope so)
Something that tastes bad burnt popcorn
A container salad bowl
Something that people take on vacation family
Something that is orange Dutch soccer jerseys
Something that lives underwater octopus
Something that makes a loud noise kettle drum
Something you can find in the sky cloud
Something you do in your free time blog
Something that won't work without electricity refrigerator
A city in the UK Birmingham
A city in the USA Birmingham, MI
Something you can do to stop a baby from crying blow raspberries at it
Something that is dangerous shark
Something that smells good Alex Patricio Rivera Quezada
Something that represents France cheese
Something that is green dollars
Something that you can buy in a bakery more pain au chocolat
Something that you do in the morning drink tea
Something that smells bad burning hair
A fruit ugli fruit
A vegetable turnip
A meat venison
A spice cumin
A seafood calamari

How about you?

srah | 6:33 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

French or Foe?

The French have a stereotype of being rude, but I bet the basis for this is the previously mentioned lack of professional responsibility. The French don't admit that they're at fault or that they're wrong, which comes off, as an American, as arrogance. Really what the French person wants you to do is have a debate with him or agree to disagree, but an American will look for him to eventually shoulder the blame. Nuh-uh. Keep looking.

Polly Platt, how we miss thee.

srah | 6:15 AM | TrackBack
Tags: france

Casse-toi - tu pues - et marche à l'ombre

Normally I dismiss as empty stereotype the idea of the smelly French person. I assume it comes from tourists who have happened to run into a lot of clochards in the Paris Metro and does not apply to the general population.

AND YET someone is stinking up the staff room with B.O. Mind if I stop breathing for a while?

srah | 5:42 AM | TrackBack
Tags: france, smell

February 9, 2003


I dreamt last night that I was on a Raiders of the Lost Ark-esque search for my mother's engagement ring. She had hidden it and told me how to find it, but it involved using mirrors to focus light which shone in the place where the next clue was, etc. I finally found it and it was cubic zirconium and the band was adjustable, like a ring from a gumball machine. I went to a restaurant, set the ring on top of a steak, and set off across the room. A waiter recognized that I didn't belong there and stopped me. "What are you doing?" he asked, angrily. "I have to serve this steak," I said, wrenching my arm from his grasp. I continued across the room, where I served the steak to Alex.

srah | 5:05 PM | TrackBack
Tags: dream

C'est pas ma faute

The assistants often talk about how the French never take responsibility for anything. We suspect that their mazes of paperwork and bureaucracy are created for exactly this purpose - so that there's always someone else to blame. They are never wrong themselves - it is either a subject to be discussed rather than a right/wrong situation, or it's someone else's fault altogether.

Tonight we came to the conclusion that Americans are just as bad, but it's a different kind of irresponsibility. While the French refuse to take responsibility for anything professionally, Americans take no personal responsibility. Thus we are the country whose citizens sue McDonald's for making them fat or sue the U-M because their drunk daughter fell out of her dorm window.

Just as bad... just different. More on this later, I should think.

srah | 4:21 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, cultural differences, france, united states

Please leave a message after the blah blah

Déjà, j'aime pas parler au téléphone et en plus, je deteste parler aux repondeurs parce que je raconte toujours un peu n'importe quoi.

And for the Anglophones in the audience: I hate talking on the phone, but I hate talking to answering machines even more because I always say something stupid.

Not a direct translation, but both express my attitude. I hate talking on the phone in English but it's even worse in French. In either language, it's much easier for me if I can see the person - if I can read their lips as they speak and use their body language to understand what they mean. With an answering machine, I have my hatred of the phone plus everyone's natural dislike and fear of feeling stupid when you realize you're talking to a box.

srah | 2:14 PM | TrackBack
Tags: french, srah

February 8, 2003

Home sweet home

As previously blogged, I have been accepted to the Master's program in the Human-Computer Interaction specialization of the University of Michigan's School of Information. It's a good thing, too, as I had put all of my eggs in one basket and couldn't be arsed to apply anywhere else.

SI manages to offer a program that interests me and also allows me the opportunity to live at home. So no more empty-nesting for Mommy and Daddy - the fledgling shall return to the roost. I imagine it will be a bit difficult living at home after living all alone for seven months, but I also miss them and miss a lot of things about being home. I think I will be ready to give up some independence in exchange for having a washing machine, dishwasher, and love. Not necessarily in that order, although...

Here I am, returning to Ann Arbor for at least another two years. It's my beloved home town, even if it does suck.

srah | 6:16 PM | TrackBack
Tags: school of information

I so have no life

Why can't I find a site in France that will let me download a new ringtone so that my phone will play Que Sera Sera when it rings? I would be Queen of the Universe if I could do that, but unfortunately I have a Philips.

Can you tell I'm stalling off going home to my empty empty apartment?

srah | 5:40 PM | TrackBack

Where do they all come from? Where do they all belong?

Geez. As if I wasn't pathetic enough. First I imagined going to the cybercafé to socialize, then I actually did it. And even worse, Franck isn't here and Dennis seems to be making out with some chick across the room. I'm trying not to turn around, but I keep hearing smacking noises. Yeeesh. I am unloved today. Pay attention to me, world!

srah | 5:12 PM | TrackBack
Tags: loneliness

The most bizarre American

The waitress at Le Comptoir, our "usual" bar, looked at me oddly when I tried to order a milkshake on Friday night. Oops. Cultural differences, evidently. Sorry, lady, I come from Michigan, where we eat ice cream all year long. Oh well, I still managed to be a mutant by ordering a thé au lait while everyone else had beer.

Quite coincidentally, it came out over our beer and tea that Andrés considers Jennifer the most "normal" of the three Americans, and me the most "bizarre". I am flattered and the others are jealous.

srah | 4:26 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, cultural differences

I really need a TV

I just said out loud to myself, in complete seriousness, "It would probably be best for all humanity on Earth if I had some chocolate right now." In other news, I saw lots of strange lights in the sky last night and decided the Raelians were right and the extra-terrestres were coming for me.

Please push the little buttons and make my phone go "ring ring". I am bored and lonely shut up in my room and it is making me insane. Comme d'hab, quoi.

srah | 2:48 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

The end is near

I have seen twenty of my students for the last time. It occurred to me all of a sudden mid-day on Thursday, so I didn't say goodbye to anyone and I'm sure they didn't realize on their own that it was our last class period together. I wonder if they would care.

These two classes will be doing their stages from the vacances de février until the vacances de Pâques and I'll be gone by the time they get back.

It's hard to believe that I only have eight weeks of teaching left. I don't feel like I've made much of an impact, but I hope I've been adequate...

srah | 2:45 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

One-word post


srah | 5:49 AM | TrackBack
Tags: l'auberge espagnole, movies

February 7, 2003

Various links discovered

If you have nothing better to do than be amused today, why not drag Dubya's head around or check out Engrish subtitles for The Two Towers?

[via Renata the Mighty English Assistant and Suckful, respectively]

srah | 8:15 AM | TrackBack
Tags: discovered

February 6, 2003

No one tells me anything

I had to discover my sister's France journal by myself.

srah | 6:39 AM | TrackBack

Why are you not updating?

Blogger, you are being poo. Here I publish and publish, but nothing is showing up on the index page. Whyfore?

srah | 4:14 AM | TrackBack

I almost deleted this as spam...

On behalf of the Dean and Faculty of the School of Information, I am pleased to offer you admission to the Master of Science in Information program at the School of Information, University of Michigan for Fall 2003...

Good thing I didn't. Classes begin September 3!

srah | 2:34 AM | TrackBack
Tags: school of information

February 5, 2003

J'ai froid à MY ASS!

Yet another Wacky Assistant Adventure has transpired among the assistantes vichyssoises. Although we have been to the Puy de Dôme, there are still hundreds of puys left to be discovered. So today Jennifer, Renata, Johanna and I took off for the Puy de Pariou, a puy with a crater in the middle.

We hesitated last night about whether or not to go, due to the threat of inclement weather, but it wasn't snowing this morning, so we set off.

It wasn't snowing. This morning. In the Allier. At the relatively low altitude of Vichy. The Puy de Pariou, par contre, was a different story.

One we got out of the car, we found ourselves in mid-calf-deep snow and started the trudge. Even hopping into Renata's footprints instead of making my own, I was quickly out of breath. We ran into some more randonneurs who gave us directions to the top, and we followed them up the path, through often thigh-deep snow on a rather steep hill. I was actually find when we got to the top, and it was fun hopping from footprint to footprint and often falling into holes and falling over in the snow.

When we got to the top, there was a great view of the crater so we decided to walk all the way around it, a distance of over a kilometer. As we started out on the crunchy frozen ground it reminded me of a polar expedition. By halfway around, I realized that I never want to go on a polar expedition. We were out of the shelter of the tallest part of the crater's edge, and the wind was whipping snow straight at us, hard enough that I was sure I was going to be blown off the edge into oblivion. Johanna thought I was slipping, but really I was trying to throw myself to the ground to protect myself every time a big gust came along. Meanwhile, I was losing feeling in my fingers.

I was everso pleased when we found the chemin again, and warmed up once we got out of the wind and started tromping down the hill and playing "I'm going on a trip and taking...", making an alphabetical list of trip essentials like Edgar Allan Poe, the town of Orcival, a farting penguin, a big plastic letter X, and a zombie.

It was quite excellent to see the puy and to have a romp in the snow, but I am glad to be home now, warm and dry and sheltered!

srah | 2:09 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

February 4, 2003

Search requests

You can not write a letter in a search engine. That is not how the Internet works, I'm afraid. This is another good one.

srah | 3:24 AM | TrackBack
Tags: technology

Sho' nuff

I went and asked Señor Tails if I could go online on the computer in the room at the end of the hall. "Sure," he said, as though I had not been begging and bothering him for months about how there was no Internet access in the school, when all along he knew that I could have gotten online here.

So now I am here. I can only use the computer when no one else needs it for grades entry, but I do have some Internet access and can do some more research and not just scrape things out of nowhere and give them to my classes.

The latest batch of posts begins here.

srah | 3:19 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

February 3, 2003

Ordinateur clandestin

Punaise. Siobhan, the Irish English assistant, has stumbled upon a computer that is connected to the Internet. As I suspected, there is Internet some places in the building, but not in the public labs. My problem is that the computer she has discovered is one of the grading computers, which I'm pretty sure we're not supposed to be using. The Internet, wicked siren that it is, is calling to me with its evil tempting song, but I don't want to get in trouble if I'm not supposed to be using it.

Perhaps I shall ask Señor Tails if I may use it when no one else wants it. And if he says no, I will bite him.

srah | 6:19 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, technology

February 2, 2003

Fait chier!

All weekend, we left a big collection of shoes outside the apartment door, so as not to dirty the carpet. And every time we did it, it made me think of Rob. I told this story to Angel, and it convinced her to move hers to the mat inside the door.

srah | 4:26 PM | TrackBack

Have you found Jesus?

We have - about a million times. Angelique brought along a magazine that had an article about optical illusions, and there was one where you stared at an abstract image for a moment, then if you closed your eyes, you saw Jesus. We learned later that if you looked at a white wall instead of closing your eyes, you saw an enormous Jesus. It was like optician crack, so we just sat around and passed the magazine, screaming when Jesus appeared.

srah | 4:26 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

The rest of the weekend

The weather got worse yesterday afternoon, so no one went out skiing in the evening. I briefly considered going along this morning but Philippe, who is a ski instructor, was training and Mathieu, who is another beginner, was nursing a sore knee.

So instead of going out and falling all over with no one to commiserate, I stayed behind and spent the morning with Mat (or Tomate, if you are a pompette joyeuse). We returned his skis, had a walk around the lake and a talk about Thanksgiving and politics, then went back to the apartment and spent the rest of the morning watching various sports reports.

Tonight we're all going to Philippe's apartment in Vichy to make crêpes to celebrate the Chandeleur, a holiday which is celebrated by... making crêpes.

I had a lovely weekend and I would like to say, in the words of Mathieu, "TAHNK yoo very MOOSH!"

srah | 11:40 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, crepes, holidays, la chandeleur, skiing, sports

February 1, 2003

Bury me up to the knees at Super-Besse

The others went skiing, but I am a chicken. I don't like going downhill and the only thing I can think of to make this worse is two big awkward pieces of fiberglass stuck to my feet. No, that's not true - I can think of something worse: having one big awkward piece of fiberglass stuck to my feet, as in snowboarding.

Anyway, I might work up the stupidity courage to do it for an hour this evening, just for the sake of saying I've done it. But at the moment the others are out skiing and I'm not.

Instead, I went for a walk in the snow to the chapel of Notre-Dame de Vassinères. I had fun trying to walk on top of the snow like an elf, but I often fell through it and was buried up to my knees.

I took lots of pictures, as I've never been to a station de ski and the weather is very nice today. I'm sure those will all be online eventually, although I can't say the same for all of the photos from last night. We had a snow fight and Philippe's mom has brand new white carpet in the apartment, so we all had to remove our shoes and pants (!) before entering.

Anyway, now I'm back in the apartment, warming up and waiting for the others to return for lunch.

srah | 7:07 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, sports

Old lady chic

Srah is not a nerd! Srah is a trend-setter!

I like to wrap a scarf around my head instead of wearing a hat. It doesn't do as horrible things to my hair, and I like to think it makes me look exciting and dramatic like a movie star, when really it makes me look like a mémé. The boys teased me for looking like a grandma, but once everyone's ears were exposed to the cold, the girls realized it was a good idea and were asking for head-wrapping advice.

Renata, Jennifer and I often kid that we fit in in Vichy because we act like old people - it's nice that we can spread it to others as well.

srah | 6:50 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, fashion, scarves

Blog Directory - Blogged