March 2003 archive

(117 entries)

March 31, 2003

About your town

This meme comes from here. I have chosen to talk about Vichy because I don't know anything about hotels in Ann Arbor.

I'm coming to visit your town. Recommend the following, with reasons why I should go to these places:

The best resturant, the one I have to eat at, at least once, while I'm in your town.
The restaurant gastronomique of the lycée Valéry Larbaud, of course! It is very fancy and elegant and not too expensive for the excellent quality of service and the quality and quantity of the food served there. Only 11€ for lunch, 22€ for dinner - make your reservations today at Mwah ha. Advertising.

The best place to relax and take in some people watching. (please don't say the mall!)
The parc de l'Allier. It is prettier than the parc des sources and has fewer scary pooping birds.

The best place to take kids to have some fun.
I don't know. I don't have any kids. I don't know what's considered "fun" these days. Do kids like rivers? Parks? Casinos? Cybercafés? You should put your darned kids in school. See answer number one.

The best nightclub or date place for my hubby and I to have some time alone.
Erm, the Comptoir is our usual bar. Not too loud, nice for talking. If you want to dance, you can go to the Fous du Roy, but it might be a little young. I don't have a husband either, so I don't know what to do with one.

The absolute best hotel to stay in while I'm there!
If you're cost-conscious, I recommend the Hôtel du Cygne. It's nice and basic. One of the fancier ones in town is the Aletti Palace.

srah | 5:53 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, vichy

I have been visited

No, not by the Raelians. Name That Blog quoted my blog on Saturday and someone was attracted to my site by

"You have to keep them on the head.One year ago today, I was blogging about earwax. And now I am all alone in France with no ears but my own. Plenty ".

You have to wonder about people. (And while you're wondering about them, you can wonder about the girl who wrote that in the first place.)

srah | 1:51 AM | TrackBack

March 30, 2003

Ol' Mac Donald had a giraffe, e-i-e-i-ho'

I was speaking English to Andrés at the party when he told me my accent in English made him think of "Old MacDonald Had a Farm". The idea was, I understand, that I am rather nasal with my E-I-E-I-Os in particular. I am never speaking English again.

Later, when I was drunkish and singing loudly along with "The Real Slim Shady", I noticed how nasal Eminem is, too. It's not something I had previously noticed in the Michigan accent - not to that extent, anyway.

So anyway, now I'm really looking forward to "Eminem Sings Children's Songs" so I can send it to Andrés.

srah | 3:20 PM | TrackBack
Tags: accents, assistantship, eminem, michigan

ET, llame à la maison

I'm still reading Contact. In the book, an alien civilization has been receiving our television signals and sends a message to the Earth. It occurs to me that if an alien civilization only had one language on their whole planet, they might think we were much more complicated than we are. If they had no concept of foreign languages, would it even occur to them to try to understand the languages in our broadcasts, or would they just think it was gibberish? And if they did try to translate, would it occur to them that our planet manages to survive with a host of different languages, or would they think we just had one language that was extremely rich in synonyms?

srah | 1:23 PM | TrackBack
Tags: books, language

'It's a beautiful day/ Don't let it get away'

Okay. I am officially bored out of my mind. Everyone is still asleep and I am not. I have taken up the hobby of drinking water, which I describe as a hobby because it's all I can do to entertain myself. My eyes are too tired to read, and I can't go for a walk because I don't have keys to the building or to the front gate. So I just sip water and walk back and forth from my chair to the window.

I joked to Pierre earlier that I was almost at the point where I would set off walking to Vichy. Perhaps that's an exaggeration, but if I knew the direction to the train station, I would set out there.

srah | 4:21 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

Great Expectations in education

Reading Great Expectations for the first time, I am inspired to question the value of my education. I took advanced English classes in one of the best public schools systems in Michigan, but I don't remember ever reading Charles Dickens in school. I don't even recall any excerpts from A Christmas Carol in my textbooks. What is going on here?

I read Oliver Twist on my own a few summers ago and found it very clever and funny. I've tried A Tale of Two Cities twice but I've never been able to get into it, which turned me off from Dickens a bit. Great Expectations, happily, returns to the humorous characters and turns of phrase that pleased me in Oliver Twist.

I realize that there are an enormous number of great works and great authors in Anglophone literature and that no education can include them all. It saddens me, however, to think of all of the high school students slogging through Richard Wright who have never been exposed to Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jane Austen, or Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

srah | 3:50 AM | TrackBack
Tags: books, charles dickens, education, high school, jane austen

Impressions of the party

We went to a party tonight at Nelson's apartment in Clermont-Ferrand. I danced rather timidly and clumsily to Latin dance music, then with reckless abandon to song after song from the 50s.

I did a tequila shot, out of curiosity, then did another because someone put a lemon wedge and a cup in my hands and poured salt on me. My overall impression of tequila shots is that the salt and lemon are very nice and the whole thing would be better without the tequila.

Once it got to 6am, it no longer seemed worth it to try to go to sleep, so I am trying to keep conscious until I can go home.

srah | 1:54 AM | TrackBack
Tags: alcohol, assistantship, party

March 29, 2003

Literary confusion

I am simultaneously reading Contact, The Best of Roald Dahl, and Great Expectations. So far, my favorite parts are when Pip is contacted by space aliens and when Miss Havisham is shipped off to the meat-packing factory.

srah | 11:45 AM | TrackBack
Tags: books, charles dickens


I was in the rue de Paris with Renata and Jennifer, just chatting, when a big mob came and turned down the rue Dacher. We gathered that they were up to no good - they were collecting urine in big jugs and I think they were planning on burning down the Hôtel du Cygne because they didn't like a woman who was staying there. They were milling about in the street, and we kept expecting the police to come, or at least for a passing police car to spot the mob. But they didn't, so I called the police, then we left the area and went to a restaurant.

A woman tapped on the glass while I was in the restaurant, trying to get my attention, so I came outside to see what she wanted. She said, "Do you want a virus?" then grabbed my hand so I couldn't run away and started coughing on me. When I got back to the restaurant, Agnès asked me to "adopt" one of my BTS students, who she said was having troubles at home but had always looked up to me as a sister.

The next day, I went to school and the TV2s started asking me questions like "What's your favorite hotel in Vichy?" and "Made any phone calls lately?", trying to get me to confess that it was I who had called the police.

srah | 3:26 AM | TrackBack
Tags: dream

March 28, 2003

The Friday Five

1. What was your most memorable moment from the last week?
Sometimes I feel like Stefan thinks I'm insane and never understands anything I say, but I felt like I actually won his respect this week when I told him that I had never been to Germany because I didn't speak German. I know, I explained further, that everyone says Germans speak very good English, but I would feel guilty going to Germany and speaking English. If I were Chinese and spoke English in Germany, I wouldn't feel so bad, but being American, I would feel too arrogant and American doing so. Stefan, who fears English encroaching on the world, seemed to respect me more for this.

2. What one person touched your life this week?
Today as I was walking past the bus stop where all of my students wait for the bus, I made eye contact, smiled, and said "Hello" or "Bonjour" to several of my students, with no response. I was a bit embarassed and saddened and was looking at the ground and trudging along when I heard a "Bon week-end" from one of my BEP students, who I hadn't even seen. I'm sure other people touched my life, but that in particular touched my day.

3. How have you helped someone this week?
I did eight text-recordings for Agnès, but that's sort of my job, and I peeled potatoes for Renata, but I was going to be eating the potatoes so I had to do my part. I don't know if I've done anything purely altruistic...

4. What one thing do you need to get done by this time next week?
I should probably compile a list of common English mistakes for my S2OLs. I bet they would like that.

5. What one thing will you do over the next seven days to make your world a better place?
Um... try to help my students learn English and therefore make France a better place for tourists? Geez. What will I do?

srah | 3:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: friday five, memes

Just stop trying to talk politics, you ignorant slut

If the US can decide that the UN is no longer effective and can ignore it, why can't Iraq ignore the Geneva Convention? We don't want to let them sink to our go-it-alone cowboy level? Is that it? I don't want anyone to suffer or die, but it seems to me we are setting a bad precedent and playing do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do.

srah | 2:05 PM | TrackBack
Tags: politics, united states, war

Bamos en Bichy

I suck at Spanish. Random irregular conjugations pop up in my head from time to time, but I can't conjugate a regular -ir verb to save my life. What's more, I am constantly confused by Bs and Vs, which usually sound the same in Spanish. So when Sonia turned to me today and asked me to conjugate the regular verb bibir, I was instantly confused. I didn't need to know the meaning of the verb in order to conjugate it, but it threw me off that she had thrown this odd, unfamiliar word at me. "To drink"? No, that's beber.

"Bibir?" I asked, managing to look simultaneously blank and aghast.

"Si, 'bibir'. 'Habiter' en francés."

"Ah, vivir!" I exclaimed, pronouncing the Vs as Vs as I slowly and painfully conjugated the verb. I can't help it. I am an excessively visual person and once I have visualized the verb, I have to pronounce it the way I see it.

Disaster disaster disaster, my Spanish. My classmates are so impressed with my ability to differentiate Js from Rs when I speak that they don't realize I can barely communicate.

srah | 1:58 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, classwork, in spanish, spanish


I am in my Spanish class. Considering I am here completely by choice, I should be paying attention. But I went to the staff room during the break and it was Sandrine's 30th birthday, and someone handed me a plastic cup, so I drank the contents, which turned out to be champagne. I am a wee bit happy.

srah | 9:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: alcohol, assistantship

By jingo!

ladiosa dellago has made a suggestion for the word I was looking for: jingoism. Definition:

Extreme nationalism characterized especially by a belligerent foreign policy; chauvinistic patriotism.

I don't know if it was exactly what I was looking for, but it's about the closest we've come so far.

srah | 8:20 AM | TrackBack

Ca y est!

Ticket is changed. I'm coming home eight days earlier than planned, which will save me from missing my parents' 25th anniversary, my mom's birthday, and Mothers' Day, but should allow me enough time to tie up loose ends here and say goodbye to my wee friends.

srah | 5:24 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, travel

There is shampooing on my smoking! Send it to the pressing!

What is with the French language's tendency to turn English -ing verbs into nouns, then apply them to things that make no sense to English speakers? I can think of four examples off the top of my head: un pressing, un brushing, un smoking, and - to a lesser extent of miscomprehension - du shampooing. I don't mind borrowing per se, but my students recognize the English origins in the words and can't believe that we don't say it in the same way - or that it means absolutely nothing to an English speaker.

srah | 5:07 AM | TrackBack
Tags: french

Girly town

Vichy will be empty and feminine. Our boys are leaving next week. Renata claims they're her boys, but it's so selfish of her to keep them all to herself.

Stefan's and Andrés' contracts are a month shorter than ours, so ils s'en vont at the end of March, taking their pregnant selves (aahhhhh! pregnantmanpregnantmanpregnantman!) with them. Too bad we will miss the accouchement of Andrés' triplets: Viggo, Sporras, and Céline Dion.

srah | 4:27 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

Not a serious question

What is a person from Mâcon called? Stefan suggests "mâconnard".

srah | 4:12 AM | TrackBack

What to do

What is the best thing to do?

If you could spend all of your time doing one thing, what would it be?

I got into this discussion with Stefan at the resto gastro. He claimed that eating was the best thing to do, whereas I argued that sleeping was better. To my way of thinking, eating is too much work to be really fun. You have to sit up, cut the food, and chew it. If you pick sleeping, you get to stay horizontal, be warm and comfy, dream, and there's no work to do.

There are many other options to choose... what's your favorite?

srah | 3:38 AM | TrackBack

March 27, 2003

Value of a year spent

If this year has taught me one thing, it is to appreciate people who teach and who teach well. It requires a level of commitment, understanding and - most importantly - patience that I will never have, and so to all of these people, I say "chapeau".

srah | 10:31 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

I've been waiting all week for this

The lyrics to Madonna's awful American Life song are finally online. Let me warn you in advance that it includes the section

I do Yoga and pilates/ And the room is full of hotties/ So I’m checking out the bodies/ And you know I’m satisfied

which, although it looks stupid, is nowhere near as bad visually as it sounds rapped by Madonna.

[link to VH1 via Anna, who has some thoughts of her own on this song, as well as a very informative lesson on telling the difference between a rose and a spoon]

srah | 10:29 AM | TrackBack
Tags: music


Pregnant man pregnant man pregnant man!

[via Stitching for Sanity]

srah | 5:57 AM | TrackBack
Tags: discovered

It is at times like this that I wish my camera was digital

Or is it were digital?

I started my 10:00 class with a whopping four students and was explaining the rules of the game we were going to play, when I was interrupted by an invasion. Hundreds of students from neighboring high schools descended on Valéry Larbaud to encourage them to join in their "strike for peace".

My students watched out the window and we talked about how, de toutes les façons, ça sert à rien to go on a strike for peace in France, which is not even at war. George Bush is not going to suddenly change positions after being passed a notice that high school students in Vichy are on strike. George Bush, I am sure, does not even know that Vichy is a city. I certainly hope he has heard of Vichy France, but I would not bet anything on it.

Anyway, while the foreign bodies were pouring into the lycée, the Intruder alarm started going off. This was the same alarm that was going off last time we lost the Internet, so I have to admit that that was one of my first concerns. My very first, however, was What the heck do I do? There was an alarm going off, so I assumed that meant I had to let the students leave. Did I have to control them and take them outside?

It turned out the Intruder alarm just makes everything explode into chaos, so some teachers let students go and others kept them prisoner. I tried to keep near to mine, but they split up and by the time the alarm stopped and the mob left, I was down to two. The others, I assume, joined the foule because this was a legal, pre-announced grève and they had the right to join it (and therefore get out of class), even if they realized that it was pointless.


If it had been one, it would have been illegal for me to continue class (you can't have one student and one teacher alone in a classroom), but instead I had to try to play superfun games with only two participants.

I hope my afternoon classes go on strike...

srah | 5:28 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, france, politics, strike, united states, war

March 26, 2003

Hardly appropriate

I feel more urgently the need for a haircut now than I did before I got my hair cut. Argh.

srah | 1:45 PM | TrackBack
Tags: haircut

A post about shoes

Never say that my blog-posts are not important and deep. Heh.

These are my favorite shoes. I don't know how long I've had them, but I know they were not new when I wore them trick-or-treating in ninth grade. So they must be at least ten years old by now. They are showing their age - the black suede is worn and turning grey - but I keep wearing them because I know I will never find anything like them again.

They are comfortable, as any shoe would have to be to stand up to hours of door-to-door travelling on that October night nine years ago. They are sandals and have a heel, but are neither dressy enough to make me feel uncomfortable, nor high enough to make me trip or walk funny (or funnier than usual, anyway). And last, they are T-straps, which always make me feel a bit old-fashioned and fun and which are rather hard to find.

It's going to be hard for me if I ever have to get rid of these shoes, and I suspect that day will never come.

srah | 1:42 PM | TrackBack
Tags: shoes

Créneaux chronologiques

As long as I remember, my life has been divided into easy, manageable sections: nursery school, kindergarten, first grade... and on and on to freshman year, sophomore year, junior year/year in Grenoble, senior year, year in Vichy. I still have two years to go, but then what will I do? How will I be able to adjust to an existence with no set beginning or end?

srah | 11:27 AM | TrackBack

Appreciate the thought, but think of the credit I could get at Target!

I have blogged before about my church's Christmas pageant when I was growing up, and how chunks of dialogue remain locked away in my brain. One of them just popped out a minute ago.

At the end of the Encounter with the Three Wise Guys, they lay their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh before Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in the manger. The narrator then says, "Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart."

Whatever that means. Wouldn't it be so much better if it was, "Mary pawned all these things, but kept them in her heart."

srah | 11:19 AM | TrackBack

'French is hard,' says Barbie

How do you say "Is there supposed to be...?" in French? As in "Are there supposed to be 20 unaccompanied students in this computer lab on a Wednesday afternoon?" I think it's "Est-ce qu'il est censé y avoir...?", but when I say it, it always comes out as something like "Est-ce qu'il y a censé y avoir...?" Perhaps I should just say "Est-ce qu'il est normal qu'il y ait...?" Or is it "qu'il y a"? I give up.

srah | 11:11 AM | TrackBack
Tags: french


Another filling meal at the resto gastro of my school. This time, I was showing off the restaurant and my 1AHOTs to the other assistants. On the menu:

Talmouse forestière
Cuisse de volaille poêlée aux artichauts
Pommes noisettes
Assortiment de fromages
Crème brûlée et pain d'épices au miel

I am going to burst.

srah | 9:18 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, food, teaching restaurant

I am a loser and a half

I'm sure everyone on earth either already knew how to do this or knew that it was a dumb thing to learn how to do, but I don't care. I've just stolen it and I'm everso proud. Learning is good.

[via chez la k-tron]

srah | 9:17 AM | TrackBack
Tags: discovered

Looking for a word

Is there a word for being against an entire nation? I mean, French jokes or anti-American comments aren't racist, per se, and ethnocentrism is about holding your own ethnic group (if "American" or "French" can be considered as such) higher than all others, not about insulting a particular one. Nationalism to me is more like being a Basque and wanting your own country. I can't find the word that I want, but we really should have one...

srah | 8:51 AM | TrackBack
Tags: english

March 25, 2003

An American in Vichy

Things are not going as badly as expected this week. I had some students with earnest questions about the war in Iraq, and I answered them as long as they asked in English, and they seemed satisfied by my answers. The students I was most concerned about didn't have anything to say or ask about the war, but neither did they seem to hold my citizenship against me.

Tomorrow I have the class I cried in front of last week, but I think I'm better prepared than I was then, and I may just have a discussion about the war (in English!) rather than trying to have a hôtellerie lesson when they want to talk about another subject.

srah | 4:25 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, united states, war


I dreamt I ran into Lindsay Roe again, this time in an airport elevator. I wasn't actually going anywhere and I was acutely embarassed at being caught hanging around the airport for nothing.

Later I was in an English class with Jennifer and Renata. The students didn't understand what the teacher was saying and she was teaching them things that were wrong, so they turned to me and asked me to take over the class.

I also dreamt that Alex and I visited his host-aunt (in the world of host-families, you can have such mammals), who was a jeweler and lived in some combination of a medieval castle and a rambling farmhouse. I upset her tray of rings and thought I had lost one, but she found it and was very nice about it. I went out to the stables and watched some insane geese attack each other, then met Alex's host-cousin, who started hitting on me. He was a kid from Valéry Larbaud who is not in any of my classes but who I kept seeing yesterday.

srah | 4:25 PM | TrackBack
Tags: dream

Head intact: hooray for me

Which of Henry VIII's wives are you?

[via Lazy Sunday Afternoon]

srah | 9:42 AM | TrackBack
Tags: quizzes

Tuesday This-or-That?

1. Poetry or prose? A prose by any other name would smell as sweet. Or whatever. Prose is the answer. Prose is the word, is the word that you heard, it's got groove, it's got meaning. Ignore me.
2. Funky modern art or the older, "classic" variety? Depends how funky or how older. I likes me some Magritte, yo.
3. Sculptures or paintings? Generally paintings, I fink.
4. Theatre: exuberant musical or serious drama? Exuberant musical or comedy. They are better for my simple little mind, which doesn't like to leave the theatre depressed or confused.
5. Ballet or modern dance? If I have to watch someone else dancing, I guess it shall be ballet. Both are rather torturous.
6. Movies: major studio or indie? I prefer something somewhere in the middle, like foreign films or lower-priority films from the big studios. Not the huge blockbusters, but not independent films, either, because I often understand why they couldn't get funding. Plus, they're all black and white hippie movies about gay cowboys eating pudding.
7. Authors: Shakespeare or Dr. Seuss? Both have their merits, but I'm going to go with Dr. Seuss because it's always a good read. I prefer to watch Shakespeare than read it.
8. TV: PBS or A&E? No tengo cable, therefore PBS.
9. Music: Beethoven or Beatles? Beethoven sucks.
10. Thought-provoking question of the week: You are a contributing member of your favorite art museum, and visit on a regular basis. They announce a new, temporary special exhibit by an artist surrounded by controversy...this person's work and/or political views offend you. Do you stop supporting the museum, or just stay away during the time the exhibit is there? I just don't go. That's what I say in theory, anyway. I suppose it might depend on the controversy.

srah | 5:48 AM | TrackBack
Tags: memes, tuesday this-or-that


The latest big-scale musical comedy extravaganza in France is Autant en Emporte le Vent. I don't know yet what the show itself is like, but judging from the soundtrack, it seems to have been written by a French person with a vague idea of the causes of the Civil War, who saw Gone With the Wind once while very drunk.

There seems to be a good deal of emphasis on slavery and slave revolt and the slaves' desire to be treated as human beings. I myself don't remember slavery being much of an issue in the movie, except that when you haven't got any slaves, you have to dig your own potatoes. I remember the film much more clearly as the story of a little tart who gets gussied up in the curtains and marries everyone she lays eyes on. But maybe I was drunk too.

srah | 2:40 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, france, gone with the wind, movies

March 24, 2003

Sometimes it's nice to be insane

If piracy is wrong, I don't want to be right.

Arrrr, matey.

srah | 3:53 PM | TrackBack

Mais t'es qui, toi?

There are only three and a half weeks left in my contract and I still
haven't learned my students' names. True, there are almost 200 of them and
true, all of the girls have practically the same name, but the year probably
would have gone better and I would have had a better rapport with them if I knew who they were.

srah | 3:32 PM | TrackBack

Bagels discovered in Vichy

Renata, Jennifer and I ran into Rachel in the street last week, and the four of us went to the Juice Café, an oasis of anglophonie in Vichy. The owner is English and the menu features things like nachos, smoothies, and pancakes with maple syrup. We ordered in English, carried on our conversations in English, and watched France carrying on outside the windows.

srah | 3:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship


Why don't we have kebab stands in the US? Maybe we do, but certainly not in Ann Arbor. I think we need some, but just for the sake of having kebab stands, because I'm not overwhelmingly fond of eating kebabs.

srah | 3:00 PM | TrackBack
Tags: food

I am afraid of imperfection

I am entirely déranged by my tendancy of late to say "J'étais en train de..." instead of just putting a verb into the imparfait. Half the time I want to say that I was doing something, not even that I was in the middle of doing it. I know it's wrong chaque fois que ça sort, but it won't stop. It reminds me of those awful translated-Anglicisms I abhor, like when Molly used to say "J'étais comme...", translating "I was like..." literally. Make it stop!

srah | 2:55 PM | TrackBack
Tags: in french

Some words I like

I just like the sound of these words:

mélanger, sosie, feutre, and fauteuil.

What words do you like?

srah | 2:40 PM | TrackBack
Tags: french, words

Are hooded sweatshirts and trainers 'in' yet?

Do you follow fashion? Are you the kind of person whose shoes always match their purse or belt? Are you able to list off the new trends for this season? Because I so am not. I am so not. The problem with writing as you talk is that you write things that are ungrammatically correct grammatically incorrect so there is no right or wrong way because you're already doing it wrong. And things that sound fine out loud look stupid written down. Pardon the rambly tangent.

So anyway, I really could probably get by in life with two pairs of black shoes. I'd say one, but il faut pas wear the same ones every day or they'd start to smell.

In addition, when Sophie and I were out walking, we decided we were secretly transvestites because we preferred all the displays of fringues pour mecs to those for filles.

Fashion has never particularly been something that branched me. Clothes prevent me from being naked and protect me from the elements. When I actually do wear something trendy or dressy, I feel like I'm putting on an act and someone's going to denounce me for the big fat fake that I am.

srah | 2:28 PM | TrackBack
Tags: fashion, shoes

Operation Enraged Teacher

The American Military Operation Name Generating Device came up with several gems when I used it, including Operation Enraged Teacher, Operation Grab Your Ankles and Prepare for Our Bankers, Operation Spitting Girlfriend, and Operation Terrible Muskrat. Give it a try.

[via Davezilla]

srah | 11:39 AM | TrackBack
Tags: generators

Participation Positives

I've never done this, but the Monday Mission hasn't been posted yet and I felt my blog needed something positive for once. So here I am, looking on the bright side of life on this bright, shiny Monday.

  • I work in Vichy, not Paris. I complain a lot and claim my students can be "aggressive", but I haven't been attacked with a knife or had to put up with any of the other things I've heard from my fellow teachers' Paris experiences.
  • It is the 24th of the month and I still have money in my account. I am not having the end-of-the-month panic that I had in November through January. Thank you, CAF.
  • My family is healthy, as far as I know.
  • My mom, in particular, is adorable. If I had my own computer, this would be my wallpaper.
  • My Pato is delightful and I love him, even (especially?) when he calls at all hours of the night and/or morning.
  • I am going to the resto gastro again on Wednesday to stuff myself and to show off one of my favorite classes to my assisting cohorts.
  • I have one set of penpal letters off my hands and they are no longer my problem.
  • I have re-learned how to make bulleted lists in HTML.
  • I have three classes cancelled this week, plus the two that are en stage. It's not that I don't want to work... it's that, well, my life would be easier if I didn't have to.
  • the cover of Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixThere are .
  • I got to see my soeur française and show her my exciting weekend life.
  • In wandering and getting lost, Sophie and I saw parts of Vichy I'd never seen before.
  • My demon-student was difficult again today, but in an immature and irreverent way rather than a hateful, disrespectful, intimidating one.

srah | 10:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: memes

And that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana-shaped

"There are ways of telling if [he] is a witch."
"Are there?"
"What are they?"
"Do they HURT?"

srah | 6:50 AM | TrackBack

Déjà vu

Chicago won Best Picture? I no longer have any desire to live on this cursèd planet. I hate the Oscars.

srah | 6:35 AM | TrackBack
Tags: academy awards, academy awards 2003, chicago, movies

Bye bye, Miss American Life

I heard Madonna's new song twice within one hour on the same station this morning. She must be stopped. It is one of the most annoying songs I've ever heard and that was what I thought the first time.

Do. Not. Rap. Please.

srah | 6:20 AM | TrackBack

March 23, 2003

Raymond Ash: my teaching hero

I will be tough and firm on Monday. I will be well-prepared and have chiffres at my disposal, but I will not put up with any crap or abuse or French. I will be rested and ready, calm and in control. I will be Raymond Ash, minus the wetsuit and spear-gun.

"Naw, Ger, seriously. I don't care how hard you 'hink you are, or how long you've been suspended. I'm warnin' you: do not, under any circumstances, ever ever fuck wi' the new English teacher."
- A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away

srah | 2:29 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, christopher brookmyre, teaching

I am a really slow typist

At oneword, you get one random word a day and sixty seconds to write whatever comes to your mind. I am wasting time before going home, and have come up with the following very superficial and oft-repeated thoughts on the word "missing":

People ask me if I miss the United States, and I always answer no. I miss 'home', but I don't miss the United States as a country. I miss people there.

I am rather disappointed that I couldn't come up with anything deeper or longer.

srah | 2:28 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, united states

Another Sunday night at the cybercafé

is sick. Laurent is here instead. I have just noticed that the mousepads
identify the two managers as Franck and Olivier. I hope Laurent isn't Olivier,
because then my name-choosing would be insanely coincidental. I don't like him as much as the other two - he doesn't seem to have the same healthy joking distance.

srah | 1:09 PM | TrackBack

Visit of the sister

picture of Sophie from SeptemberSophie came to visit me this weekend, and I took her to a dinner at Presles. There was great confusion in explaining to the others who she was and what she was doing there, seeing as she was not actually my sister, not an assistant, and that while she was a high school student, she was not a student at Presles or in Vichy at all. We explored the sites of Vichy, then invented some more when we had exhausted the established ones.

srah | 11:15 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, host family, vichy

March 21, 2003

The Friday Five

1. If you had the chance to meet someone you've never met, from the past or present, who would it be?
At the moment I'd like to meet Dubya, except for the fact that I would be immediately thrown to the ground and handcuffed by Secret Service agents just for thinking about what I'd like to do to him. So instead I would like to meet Ian Rankin or Christopher Brookmyre, either of which would be much happier and less violent.

2. If you had to live in a different century, past or future, which would it be?
I would like to live back when language was just being invented - when people started making actual words instead of grunts. That would be neat.

3. If you had to move anywhere else on Earth, where would it be?
France, probably, because I know how to live in France. Chile, perhaps, if I were with someone who knew how to live in Chile. England, perhaps, but I don't know how to live in England. I would have to learn.

4. If you had to be a fictional character, who would it be?
Had to? I think it would be a good thing to be a fictional character. But I'm silly like that. I would like to be Cindy Lou Who (who was not more than two) or maybe Anne Shirley. I would be a lot of people, but we can't go on all day.

5. If you had to live with having someone else's face as your own for the rest of your life, whose would it be?
Would they have that face too? I wouldn't want to be constantly mistaken for someone famous. I will go with Alyson Hannigan because she's cute and I've already been compared to her.

srah | 6:59 AM | TrackBack
Tags: friday five, memes

February Vacation pictures

Here they come:

Mommy tasting the delicious waters

Grandma, Daddy, Mommy, Sophie, and Françoise at the top of the Bastille

Sacre-Coeur steps up to Sacre-Coeur family in front of the Louvre painting in the Louvre entitled (by me) 'Woman Selling Commemorative Crucifixion Tea Towels'

me and the petites cousines

view of the henge view of some fallen bits Grandma at Stonehenge cutest picture ever of my mom all hengey and nonsense

the river Anton the old mills, mentioned in the Domesday Book St Mary's church Daddy visiting the relatives inside the shrubbery in which their tombstone now resides tree in the sunshine in Auntie Averill and Dennis' yard

I am so disillusioned that they put this sign up.  OUCH! Samuel Johnson with pigeons pooping on his head Londoners - in an unusual fit of Anglo-Franco thoughtfulness - try to prevent their neighbors from across the Channel from getting run over

srah | 6:11 AM | TrackBack
Tags: andover, assistantship, england, grenoble, london, meldreth, paris, photos, travel, vichy

Recent dreams

I dreamt earlier this week that Alex and I were in London and I left him to go buy bread at Piccadilly Circus (?), but it started to rain, so I ducked under some kind of shelter. One by one, the surviving members of Monty Python took shelter with me and we started talking. They liked me so much, they decided to adopt me as a sort of mascot. When I went back to the hotel/apartment, Alex was wearing a kilt and wanted to show me all of the used books he had bought from the restaurant downstairs.

Last night, I dreamt that Queen Elizabeth II had died quite suddently and unexpectedly and the British people refused Prince Charles as their king. I got annoyed and wanted to tell everyone that putting up with kings you don't like is the price you pay for having a monarchy. This was particularly odd because in real life, I have no such opinion. In fact, I have no opinion at all with regards to Prince Charles as King of England or with England having a monarchy at all.

In another dream last night, Jennifer, my dad and I were in Paris or London, looking for a lesbians-only p0rn shop. We kept missing buses or getting on buses that were going in the wrong direction. I think my dad wanted to do some genealogy.

srah | 4:23 AM | TrackBack
Tags: dream

March 20, 2003

So much for a hair cut

Un-blow-dried, my hair looks much the same as it did pre-haircut, minus some split ends. No one has remarked on it, so I assume it's not noticeable. Whatever.

srah | 6:41 PM | TrackBack
Tags: haircut

Female chivalry

The next time I hold a door for a guy and he refuses to walk through it, insisting that I go first, I'm going to kick him squaaar in the nuts. I am fine with having doors held for me, as long as I can reciprocate. It's common courtesy.

srah | 11:41 AM | TrackBack
Tags: srah

'Consequences' descends into debauchery (as usual)

I complain a lot, but playing games thought up at the last minute with the 1AHOTs who know and don't mind that they were thought up at the last minute is a good way to spend an afternoon. Thanks, you guys. Even if you are sex-obsessed.

srah | 11:38 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

All alone

Renata and Jennifer have gone to see the Renaud concert in Chalon sur Saône tonight. I wasn't asked, as I remember, but it doesn't matter because I didn't have any money back when they bought the tickets anyway. The point is, I shall be all alone and bored tonight. Please go ring ring on the tellyphone or I will have to go to the cybercafé and Dennis will think I am in love with him.

srah | 10:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

Je m'en fous

Last night as I was leaving the cybercafé I crossed the room to tell Franck that I was ready to leave. He started heading towards the bar/money-paying place, but saw Dennis approaching from the other direction. "Oh," I think he said, "Christophe will take care of you."

Christophe? I think that's what he said. I am so disillusioned to know Dennis' real name and unfortunately, that fits him about as well as Dennis . But Dennis he shall always remain, in blog-land.

srah | 10:47 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship


I actually heard a French person say "happypottymoose" today, just like Inspector Clouseau or whoever it is that says that. Wouldn't you like to know why...

srah | 10:31 AM | TrackBack

Lack of communication

How did Could we divide your classes into groups, like I do with all of the other classes, so that I only have half the class at a time? somehow become Can I take all of your classes in their entirety all by myself for several weeks in a row?

Supposedly the classes will be divided into groups beginning next week, but that still makes over a month that this has been going on. I am not a teacher. I am not a substitute teacher. I am an assistant. I am only supposed to have 12 students at a time and if I had a spine, I would tell you that to your face.

srah | 6:42 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

La semaine française

It's French Week at Idle Words. And Idle Words links to Textism, who blogs pretty one day.

I was excited about finding these sites earlier, but now I don't feel like being excited about anything. I feel like nothing. Sorry.

srah | 5:27 AM | TrackBack
Tags: french

The continuation of a bad day

I have come close several times. I have wanted to. I have done so just upon leaving a class. But until today, I had never actually cried in front of my students.

I really don't want to be here today. I don't want to talk about the war. I don't want to talk about the United States. I want you to ignore current events and be interested in Jamie Oliver. I want to curl up in bed and hide.

srah | 5:22 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, crying, teaching

The makings of a bad day

Tout ce dont j'ai envie, c'est de me jeter par terre en pleine milieu du couloir et de rester là jusqu'à la fin de la journée.

srah | 3:37 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, in french, readers' choice

March 19, 2003

En attendant

All of the Internet-only posts are taken, but Dennis
offered me a tea, a seat on the couch, and a foot massage while waiting.
Thank you, I'll hang out in the Den of Preteen Boys instead. He let me pick
the music for the Den of Preteen Boys to make up for having to be there.

srah | 10:05 AM | TrackBack

That newly-shorn feeling

I got over my trouille of having my hair cut. No, that's not true. I got my hair cut despite the ever-present trouille. Getting my hair cut in France never cures my fear of getting my hair cut in France. I don't know why this is.

It might be too short in front, or that might be because she blow-dried it all poofy. My hair is enormous and poofy and I can't decide if I like that or not. Tomorrow we shall see it in its natural state and see what we can do with it.

srah | 9:43 AM | TrackBack
Tags: haircut

March 18, 2003

I should call and ask them

Being an M, I have never been concerned with being the first or last in alphabetical order. I was always busy being the shortest - that was my claim to fame. But I find myself wondering if people at the beginning and the end take great pride in being at the beginning and the end. Does Daniel Alfonso curse the day Andrée Aby moved into Abrest? Does Yzeure burn with the resentment Ilya Zilberfarb holds for Maria Zuniga?

I need to get a life. I'm reading the phone book again.

srah | 2:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

'The new telephone books are here!'

"My name in print!"

Jennifer delivered me one of the two copies of the annuaire de l'Allier (03) that she found outside the door. I am in there, which brings me great joy because I have never had my own name in the phone book and because I have confirmed my suspicion that I am the only "Mc" in Vichy.

In case you were wondering (and I know you were), there is only one Leroy listed for St Yorre and that's a taxi company. If I were, like, the biggest star in France, I would have an unlisted number too, because people like me would be looking her up.

Is it sad that Nolwenn was the next person I thought of, after my fellow assistants and myself? Is it even sadder that I had to go fouilling around for my friends as soon as I had my paws on the phone book?

srah | 11:41 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

Grape schmape

Purple Skittles in France are blackcurrant.
What a surprise for my poor confused taste buds!

srah | 11:33 AM | TrackBack

March 17, 2003

St Gangs-of-Young-Boys Night in Vichy

For those of you who are not up-to-date on the latest in my life, I will sum it up in a brief resumé: Ralph Fiennes and I are going to get maaaaarried and have seventeen little Hispanic children named Ty.

After a crappy day at work, it was with great joy that I learned of the Printemps du Ciné. The PdC means that from March 16-18, movies in Vichy are only 3€. At 3€, one could go see any old trash, so we did. Coup de foudre à Manhattan is the kind of tripe I would be hard-pressed to pay full price for, but it was a very enjoyable giggle for 3€.

The movie stars Jennifer Lopez' ass as the ass of a New York femme de chambre (or camarera de piso, for those of us who are studying Spanish For the Restaurant/Hotel Industry) who falls in love with a rather despicable senator played by Ralph Fiennes, probably with a bad fake American (New York!) accent.

Fortunately in the dubbed version, he had no such monstrocity, so I was free to fall in love with him and try to devise ways to pull him off the screen and make him switch places with Renata so that he would be sitting next to me and Renata would have to make out with J-Lo. I am not usually a Ralph Fiennes maniac or anything, but he appealed to me tonight. Probably because I was in a bad mood and needed something to make me giggle and grin inanely. So I get Ralph and the cute kid, and I'll let the bootylicious Miss Lo keep Renata and do what she will with her. I highly recommend the cinematic masterpiece, but only on video with a gang of friends and perhaps vast amounts of alcohol. Nite nite!

srah | 5:43 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, maid in manhattan, movies

Lying on my back, the tears pour into my ears

What am I doing here? Why am I here, doing somethign I am no good at? Why am I wasting my time and theirs, when nothing I do does any good? I don't know if I want to be alone or if I want a hug. I want my mommy. I want my boyfriend. I don't want to be alone and miserable with no one who loves me and be surrounded by people who don't even respect me. Why? Why am I so ineffective? Why am I alone? What am I doing? Is it me? Why can't I do this? Why hasn't it gotten any easier? Why isn't it over yet? When this year is over, will I be able to look back on the good things, or will I always have this feeling of waste and failure and inadequacy? Of loneliness and homesickness? Will I be genuinely able to recommend this to others? Would others suffer the way I'm suffering now, or is it just me? Am I being too hard on myself, or am I really as useless and ineffective as I feel?

srah | 11:39 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, teaching, unhappiness

The Monday Mission

1. Do you have any plans for "Spring Break" this year?
I want to go home.

2. Did you ever have any wild Spring Break experiences? C'mon, tell me the stories!
Everso wild. My senior year in high school, we went to Toronto and went shopping and saw Rent and put underwear on our head (although not at Rent...). My freshman year in high school, Jen Dively came to visit and got bitten by my evil demon dog. So, as you can tell, my life is just one party after another.

3. What is your most memorable vacation of your youth?
Memorable vacation in my youth. I suppose that would be when I went to France with my high school French teacher, because all of my family vacations melt into a Michigan-to-South-Carolina-and-historical-landmarks-in-between globby sort of haze. Globby haze? What?

4. What was the best vacation you've ever had as an adult?
They all have their advantages, don't they? I liked my February 2001 vacation in Limoges, Carcassonne, and Nîmes, but then I was all alone and sometimes rather lonely and frustrated. I liked visiting Antoine because his family is nice and his house is full of chocolate. I liked going to Chile because everything was new and different, but it was cold and everyone spoke Spanish.

5. Now, what is that "Dream Vacation" that you have always wanted to take if you had the time & money?
If I had the time and money, my life would be one big vacation. I would go everywhere. I would go away. I would not babysit anyone.

6. Have you ever take, or had the urge to take, a "blog vacation?" That is, just taking some time off from blogging?
Not on purpose. Well, I suppose that's what it was when my grandpa died and I stopped taking blog-notes, but I was not consciously taking a blog vacation.

7. You know how you get that creepy "danger" vibe you sometimes get from people you don't know? Has that ever turned out to be right? Or have you ever had a bad feeling about someone or a situation and not listened to that "little voice?"
Promo, have you been reading my blog again? Danger, Will Robinson!

srah | 10:39 AM | TrackBack
Tags: memes, monday mission



Pardon me, I just had to get that out. Class was so much fun this afternoon, as I'm sure you can tell.

One question: How did they know, when making The Omen, what to name the Spawn of Satan?

That is all I have - or really ought - to say about that.

I need a hug.

srah | 10:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Quack Quack

Happy St. Pato's day.

srah | 10:14 AM | TrackBack
Tags: boys, holidays

Mwah ha ha

Yeah, yeah, Bloggies came and went. But now the Anti-Bloggies are online. I would love to win some odd crappy prize, if you please.

srah | 6:54 AM | TrackBack

March 16, 2003

Handles are not ears

Why on earth do we say Little pitchers have big ears? I know, il faut pas trop y reflechir with proverbs and all, but it suddenly occurred to me how stupid that is.

If you don't know, the phrase means that you can't say n'importe quoi in front of kids, thinking that they are too young or too stupid to absorb what you're saying.

But why do children become pitchers and since when do pitchers have ears at all? I think I need to lie down and stop thinking.

srah | 1:47 PM | TrackBack


I admit that I am not the best-informed person out there. I have no TV, my radio is set to a crappy pop music station
that runs the news headlines twice an hour, I don't buy newspapers, and when
online, I would much rather read what's going on in Katie and Krista's lives than check out Yahoo! News.
I freely admit that I am uninformed, so if you can answer any of the questions
that have been nagging at me, I would appreciate it. What exactly is Dubya's justification for war with Iraq? I have the impression that it has something to do with terrorism or weapons of mass destruction. Yes? In that case...
What is the link between terrorism and Iraq?
How come we get to have weapons of mass destruction but Iraq doesn't?
Isn't this all really about oil and revenge?
How on earth is this being spun in the US, so that Americans are buying it?
Why are we supposed to be upset with the French?
How much longer is this going to go on?

I am inclined to agree with Dominique de Villepin
that at this point, war is looking inevitable. So although I think going
to war is inadvisable and irrational, I wish they would hurry up and get
going with it. I suppose my rationale
is that the sooner we get to war, the sooner everyone will realize what a
mistake it is.

srah | 12:47 PM | TrackBack

I'll settle for Whole Nut

Every time I go to England, I am stunned and delighted by the huge variety of candy bars they have. There is a veritable cornucopia of chocolate confections, most of which are impossible to find in the US or in France.

Unfortunately, none of them are particularly spectacular. I seem to buy a Toffee Crisp every time I hike it over to the Isles, forgetting every time that I don't particularly like them. The idea of a Toffee Crisp is so appealing that I forget the reality. You have things like Aero, a straight chocolate bar with air bubbles in it, or Cadbury's Fruit and Nut, which has raisins in it. It astonishes me that in an enormous candy display like that the candy, despite its exoticism, turns out to be less appealing than its American counterparts.

srah | 12:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: food

Buy French

"I'm buying this because it's French."

I would do so myself to make a point, but I don't think it would make much of an impact, given the circumstances. So instead I have to encourage you, the reader. Ignore all this ridiculous boycott nonsense and go out and try some Nutella, Cantal, Côtes du Rhone, or Evian, eat some Dannon yogurt or put some Michelin tires on your car. Tell them srah sent you and stand back and watch as they are... unimpressed.

srah | 10:12 AM | TrackBack
Tags: france, politics, united states


Dennis was having a conversation with another computer-user about trains between Clermont-Ferrand and Vichy and looked at me, so I piped up.

Me: Il y en a plein. Un... ou deux par heure, je pense.
Dennis: Tu es de Clermont-Ferrand?
I looked at him strangely.
Dennis: Tu es de Vichy?
Me: Ben... pour l'instant...
Dennis: Mais d'origine? Tu viens d'où?
Me: Ann Arbor.
Dennis: Un arbre? Naples?
Me: Ann Arbor.
Dennis: C'est où ça?
Me: Dans le Michigan. (indicating Michigan sweatshirt)
Dennis: Tu es AMERICAINE?!

Dennis, Dennis, Dennis. How long have we known each other?

srah | 10:09 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship


I like milk in my tea.

In England, this seems to be the norm and I didn't even have to ask for the milk. I love you, England.

In France, thé au lait is a bit more unusual, but still understood. Sometimes one has to put up with waiters' jokes about "Spanish tea" (thé olé!).

In the United States, tea with milk is rather strange. Waiters are always forgetting the milk and my friends look aghast. Milk?! In tea?! Is that any good?

In Chile, té con leche is an order made by mutants and can result in anything from a tea and a glass of milk to a teabag steeping in hot milk (which is really not too bad!). I find it rather odd because it seems to be even more of a tea-drinking country than the US or France.

How do you feel about milky tea?

srah | 4:02 AM | TrackBack
Tags: chile, food, france, travel, united states

Have a crush or want to crush?

Anti-war protests followed me around all day yesterday. I was invited by one of my students and I was going to go but then Renata and Jennifer went to the Puy de Dôme and I didn't want to go all alone and American.

So I walked past and observed from the outside and tried to do some shopping downtown but whenever I exited a store, they seemed to have congregated right there. I think they reeeeeeally wanted me to join them but were too shy to tell me.

srah | 3:51 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, politics, war

March 14, 2003

The Friday Five

1. Do you like talking on the phone? Why or why not?
I can think of few things that I like less than talking on the phone. I get nervous, I can never remember what I wanted to say, and I feel at a disadvantage for not being able to read the other person's lips or use their body language to understand what they're saying.

2. Who is the last person you talked to on the phone?
My pookie. Did I say "pookie"? How awful. My belovèd. My cheri.

3. About how many telephones do you have at home?
At home in Vichy? Two. The land line and the portable.

4. Have you encountered anyone who has really bad phone manners? What happened?
Andrés complains about my phone manners because I never talk to him when he answers the phone at Presles and instead just ask for Renata. I can't help it - I hate the phone and want off as soon as possible.

5. Would you rather pick up the phone and call someone or write them an e-mail or a letter? Why or why not?
Written word, always.

srah | 6:49 AM | TrackBack
Tags: friday five, memes

March 13, 2003

Just in case you were trying to forget

The Raelians pop up in a news article again!

"Joining them on federal grounds were four women followers of the Raelian sect who stripped down to their thong underwear as a sign of opposition to war. The sect believes life on Earth was created by space aliens and claims to have produced human clones.

"Whenever everybody undresses, the ego goes away and then we can make decisions," said Nadine Gary. "Imagine President Bush nude addressing the state of the union. Imagine Saddam Hussein nude."

Shudder. Thanks for the image, my Raelian amies.

[link via a wolf who sends flowers]

srah | 11:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

The Onion hits the nail on the head once again

Bush Orders Iraq To Disarm Before Start Of War

srah | 11:42 AM | TrackBack

Perhaps I have a subconscious desire of my own?

I don't know what it is, but I have had this cartoon in my head all week. Xkot
linked to it, I laughed and sent it to Alex. It should have ended there,
but it won't go away. Mmmmmmonkeys....

srah | 11:41 AM | TrackBack

Out, damnèd spot!

Many of my photos this time around feature lovely lens-spots from rain and/or snow. Sorry 'bout that. Anyway, try to enjoy them despite it!

<-- For previous photos, check out the links in the sidebar.

Christmas Break
Alex by the Thames in Oxford the Radcliffe Camera Alex in the streets of Oxford Shakespeare's Globe Theatre very scary photo of Alex on the Millenium Bridge at night Alex in Vichy's first snow of the season

Vichy in the snow
snow-laden branches blocking the path from my front door

Yet more Valéry Larbaud
trying to be artsy-fartsy the teachers' lounge

Dîner des assistants
Stefan demonstrating his dual cultural nature by drinking both wine and beer at the same time Andrés, Christophe, Stefan, Rachel, and Jennifer at Presles Rachel, Jennifer, Johanna, Renata, and Andrés at Presles

Philippe, Matthieu, Aline, Angelique, Celine, and Thomas at dinner Matthieu, Thomas, Angelique, Philippe, Celine and Aline ready for a day of skiing Thomas, Celine, Aline, Philippe, Matthieu, Lucas, Laetitia, and Angelique ready to hit the slopes a skier who shall not be named, horizontal view from my walk view from my walk view from my walk view from Philippe's balcony me (yes, I was there too), Thomas, Celine, Angelique, Aline, Matthieu and Philippe

Puy de Pariou
me in thigh-deep snow the four vichyssoises on top of the puy de Pariou a wind-whipped, snow-covered bush Jennifer and Renata off in the distance limbo lower now!

Au châlet
Stefan looking happy with a St-Nectaire assistants chowing down vichyssoises knitting (and Stefan in PJs) the chalet lui-même Nelson pre-striptease

I shall take a break here and bring you February vacation photos in another post. G'day.

srah | 11:38 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, photos, travel

Playground politics

Funny - I was just blogging about changing the name of things for political reasons, and now I have been informed of this.
Passing a bill to rename House cafeteria French fries sounds incredibly
ridiculous and snotty and like a complete waste of government time. It mostly
just sounds like we're cutting off our national nose to spite our national
face. I like these guys' takes on it.

While we're at it, why don't we remove all words of French origin from our vocabulary? That'll teach those cheese-eating surrender monkeys. Certainly those frogs will then allow us to attack whoever we desire
to. In fact, since the Germans are holding out on us as well, why don't
we remove all Germanic influence as well? Then we can just sit around and
grunt at each other and Dubya will the most articulate of all. Don't worry,
George, I won't leak your plans on the Internet.

srah | 11:37 AM | TrackBack

Je péte les plombs

It looks like since two of my classes are en stage, the Internet is back and I have a photocopier code, the Vie Scolaire has taken it upon themselves to be the bane of my existence.

Apparently Véro is out for the whole week. Which they really could have told me on Monday, when I visited them and they told me she was absent for the day. So I quickly prepared to teach the whole class alone (even though according to my contract I'm not supposed to have more than 15 students), went to class, and no one was there. Because the Vie Scolaire had told the students that their teacher was not there, but not that I was going to be teaching them, so they thought they had the day off. It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't the second time this week that it had happened. The Vie Scolaire likes to ask me to teach, then not provide me with any students. I don't know exactly who they think I'll be teaching, but maybe they're hoping to educate the furniture.

srah | 11:36 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, teaching

March 11, 2003

Make me happy for only $17.95

Slap me with brie, if you please.

srah | 4:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, discovered

Tuesday This-or-That?

1. Soup or salad? Zuppe, per favore. Or something to that effect. I wish I actually spoke Italian. I can eat soup as a meal.
2. Hot or cold sandwiches? I like me a good tuna salad sandwich, but I also like grilled cheese. Generally cold, but there are a few hot ones I like.
3. White or whole wheat bread (or rye, etc)? I shouldn't, because
it's not good for me, but I prefer white because it's such a lovely golden
color when it's toasted. Mmmm, toast. 4. Pack a lunch for work/school, or buy it? There ain't no packin' lunches here. You eat what the self serves and you like it, pilgrim. When I live at home, though, my mummy packs my lunch.
5. If you eat chain, or mom & pop type place? Depends on how much time I have. There are some things to be said for speedy service and payment up front.
6. Tuna or chicken salad? Already answered. Tuna with mayonnaise, carrots and peas.
7. Cheese: Swiss or cheddar (or American, etc)? WHAT? What kind of options are those? I choose Cantal, Bleu d'Auvergne, and Colby Jack. How's that for variety?
8. Mustard or mayo? Do not befoul my blog with such questions! Mustard is always the winner.
9. Sandwiches: wrap/pita pocket, or regular bread/roll? Whichever's the least messy, given the fillings.
10. Sweet stuff: cookie/cake or fresh fruit? Cookies, cake, AND fresh fruit.

Srah has just noticed that she doesn't know today's date and has done
last week's TTOT answers. Those responsible will be sacked, and the credits
will be redone at the last minute and at great expense. Ho hum.

srah | 6:38 AM | TrackBack
Tags: memes, tuesday this-or-that

Get to work!

It's frankly disturbing, the number of computer posts around the school that have
in their Internet Explorer History. We'll just assume that it's me who's
been logging in all over the place. Yup. If it's not, signez le livre d'or foutu. Or the foutu livre d'or, which sounds better in my brain.

srah | 6:12 AM | TrackBack

March 10, 2003

Admirateur obsessionnel

Um, yup.

I was being dragued. Much as I gave Dave the benefit of the doubt, it is quite evident that I was being dragued.

I met him at the mailbox on Saturday. He introduced himself as my new neighbor and we made small talk as best you can when one of you doesn't understand half of what the other is saying. Then today I had the window open in my ground-floor apartment so when he came to get his mail, he started talking to me through it. I was a bit annoyed because I couldn't have privacy and not die from the heat from my unadjustable radiator at the same time.

Later this evening, he rang the doorbell and I answered it. He said he wanted to get to know his new neighbor (or something like that - it sounded like lqjoqiejoinindsomivoisin to me). I said I was just about to make dinner, so I would come over to his apartment when I was done and say hi. I chopped my vegetables and I was just about to start cooking when the doorbell rang again and I had to explain to him that no, I wasn't done with dinner. At this point, I thought he was trying to pick me up or he was just extremely lonely and wanting to meet his neighbors. I am naïve like that.

After dinner, I went over and he had some friends there. Well, I thought, This isn't so bad. He already has friends, but I guess he did just want to meet the neighbors rather than trying to pick me up. After a while, the friends left. We looked at his action-movie collection, then sat down in the kitchen and he started asking me questions.

"Would you ever date a black man?" was the first question. I suppose you can see where this was going, but I was still giving him the benefit of the doubt and wondering if this was some kind of deep anthropological question he wanted to know about Americans.

"Do you have a boyfriend?" was one of the next questions. I answered that I did.

"Do you have anyone on the side yet, for while you're in France?" was the next, at which point all benefit of the doubt flew out the window. I continued to try to be polite, which was insane, but I really didn't know what to do in the situation. He told me that he liked me, but if I just wanted to be friends, that would be fine, but he would always hold out the hope that we would some day be together.

Oh good, friends. That's better. I will try to have a conversation then. So how is Mayotte?

The answer to that question, apparently, is that I am so beautiful (long up/down checking-out gaze). And that he's dreamed of going out with an American for his whole life, and now he's living next door to an American and she's so beautiful, so it's like a gift from God. And that he thinks he's falling in love with me. And that if some day my lips were to touch his lips... blah blah blah something I didn't understand and didn't want to.

Finally I escaped, feeling rather icky and violated, even though he had only touched my hand. I am creeped out and not looking forward to being home in the evenings or to having to walk past his apartment to get to mine. Even though I'm only here for about a month, I don't want to have to put up with a stalker. If it continues beyond tonight, I'm talking to our landlady.

srah | 5:18 PM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, france, stalking neighbor

Vichy soie

Did you know that vichy is the French name for the fabric we call gingham? That makes me wonder if we used to call it vichy ourselves, and the name got changed during WWII, like calling sauerkraut "victory cabbage" or German shepherds "Alsatians".

srah | 12:57 PM | TrackBack
Tags: english, french, vichy

Comment? Comment?

I think I'm being dragued by my voisin mahorais
but I can't be sure because I can't understand a word he says.

srah | 12:50 PM | TrackBack

Harini would be so proud

Which Saved by the Bell character are you?

Oh am I, now?

[via Black & White: My Colourful Life]

srah | 11:19 AM | TrackBack
Tags: quizzes

It's about time!

There seems to be some Internet controversy over whether or not this was originally written by the delightful Rick Mercer, but de toutes les façons, those durned Canucks have finally issued us an apology.

srah | 11:06 AM | TrackBack

Don't you miss the days before I had Internet at school?

My Weather Pixie is a little skank-biscuit. It's spring, but it's not that springy, darling. Put some clothes on.

srah | 10:40 AM | TrackBack

Classified information

Lost: One entire class of Hôtellerie students, aged about 17 to 21. Answer to the name of THOT.

When I went to the Vie Scolaire at 2pm to ask if Véronique was there, they said she wasn't and asked if I could take the class at 3. I hemmed and hawed and said I would do my best, considering the lack of warning. Only I don't even have the spine to point that out, so I just sort of went, "Non... ben, oui, mais..." So I did my best, and I made a million photocopies, and I took my million photocopies to the classroom and... no one was there. No one was there to hand in their penpal letters, no one was there to learn about Jamie Oliver and his restaurant Fifteen, no one was there to revel in our Véronique-less class time, and no one was there to appreciate all the stress and heartache and hard work I go through for them. Bugger.

srah | 9:25 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, teaching

Love letter

AHHHH! Internet! My darling, you have returned!

Don't worry... I will continue to complain about Señor Tails, who vehemently claims he gave me a photocopier code at the beginning of the year, when what he really did was tell me there weren't any left (I refrained from retorting that we did not have 10,000 teachers at the school so something must be left from the permutations of four digits) and I should use those of the other English teachers. MLARGH!

Anyway, here I am. And here I will stay until I rot and/or they throw me out.

srah | 6:34 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship

Hamburger-eating aggressor monkeys

If I hear one more argument of "We saved your ass in WWII and look how ungrateful you are, you cheese-eating surrender monkeys", I'm going to spit directly in the speaker's eye. As an ally, I think France would be willing to help out the US if they were in trouble, but I don't see why they should be obliged to blindly follow the US when they're the ones aggressing another country. I wouldn't like to have friends who blindly followed everything I did without thinking for themselves. I really don't see how people can even make the "ungrateful French" argument if they've given it any thought at all.

srah | 2:27 AM | TrackBack
Tags: united states, war

March 9, 2003


Vacation posts begin here.

srah | 12:23 PM | TrackBack
Tags: blogging


What am I going to do tomorrow? Four classes to teach, and not prepared in the least for any of them! Wish me luck...

srah | 12:22 PM | TrackBack

Language nerd reads languagehat

Dear me, this is interesting. Blogging it to save it for later!

srah | 12:17 PM | TrackBack

Chemicals all rushing through my bloodstream

Spring is in Vichy. Spring is in Vichy. It's spring spring spring spring spring.

In other news, I don't love the David Gray song Babylon in the winter, but it has a very springtime feel to it, especially played at full volume. It feels like spring spring spring spring spring.

Dennis is serving me tea and kowtowing and calling me "madame" and I am smiling at him instead of rolling my eyes because it's spring spring spring spring spring.

srah | 9:34 AM | TrackBack
Tags: assistantship, cybercafe, david gray, spring

March 8, 2003

Destiny calls

Why do travel writers always have to live in Provence and Tuscany? Why don't they ever live somewhere normal like, say, Vichy?

srah | 2:56 PM | TrackBack


That may or may not mean someone who eats scales. I don't know any Latin.

I spent a large part of our trip shopping for, buying, and reading books in English. Between my London-Paris and Paris-Vichy train rides today (6.5 total hours of travel time), I managed to polish off two of them. I am quite pleased with my new acquisitions: Beggars Banquet (the latest Ian Rankin), Mother Tongue and Notes from a Big Country (now that I have full collections of Rankin and Brookmyre, my latest victim is Bill Bryson), Talking to Addison (recommended by Cheryl because the author has an entertainingly Betty vs. Molly-esque writing style), and An Englishman in Paris: l'éducation continentale. It is in this last one that I found yet another quote for the ol' quotes page:

"England had been my pillow.
La France serait mon réveil."

srah | 6:07 AM | TrackBack
Tags: books, shopping

March 7, 2003

Movie night

My parents left this morning, so I spent the day gavering myself on English-language cinema. I saw The Magdalene Sisters, which was very dramatic and moving, and Chicago, which had a lot of nice singing and choreography, but was a little light on the plot and clothing.

srah | 5:59 PM
Tags: chicago, movies

To quote Professor Higgins...

Damn, damn, damn, damn.

I can't keep up my own website's News page, so I miss out on things like little-known, little-seen John Hannah work being shown 50km from chez moi.

Drat drat drat fie. Perhaps we'll have access back when I return?

srah | 7:25 AM
Tags: john hannah


I've seen my parents and grandma off to the airport and have a day to kill in London before taking the train back home tomorrow, so I have taken the opportunity to check in online while I'm here. I am drowning in a sea of email (over 500 and mostly spam) qnd I cqn4t type on stupid English keyboqrds qny;ore< Posts from the past few weeks will appear behind this one over the next couple of days. Hopefully I'll be done by Monday...

srah | 6:16 AM | TrackBack
Tags: travel

March 6, 2003

Arsenic and Old Jokes

We went to see Arsenic and Old Lace at the Strand Theatre last night. Kramer from Seinfeld was Jonathan and there were a few other familiar faces in the cast. Everyone in The Fam seemed to enjoy it, but I didn't think much of it. It was not incredibly funny to start with, the comic timing seemed to be off, the accents were often forced, and Michael Richards was more Kramer than Jonathan, I found. Whatever. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't my favorite theatre experience ever.

srah | 3:33 PM | TrackBack
Tags: travel

March 5, 2003

Beware the Greg

If you take a Big Bus tour in London, pay attention when your tour guide introduces himself. If his name is Greg, GET OFF THE BUS IMMEDIATELY. We were cursed with the stuttering, misinforming Greg twice on our trip. The Fam says he's probably new, but I am still annoyed by all of the misinformation he was feeding us, and after a while, I didn't trust anything he said. Booooooo, Greg. This is not to say that all of the Big Bus tour company's guides are like Greg - Alistair and the Floppy-Haired Guy were very good. So go ahead and take the Big Bus and if you come across Greg, boo him for me.

srah | 2:29 PM | TrackBack
Tags: london, travel

March 3, 2003

Getting tanked

To get to Stonehenge from Andover, you have to take a bus that goes through the military base housing area. We saw helicopters and such all around, then while waiting at Amesbury for the bus to Stonehenge, we saw tanks driving down the street in one direction, and trucks carrying tanks in the other.

It reminded Mummy of the canoe livery in Ann Arbor - you can rent a canoe, paddle from one stop to the other, then they drive them back upriver. So we assumed, naturally, that we were witnessing tank rental. I thought it would be a good idea for us, as American tourists frightened by left-side driving. We could drive on any side we wanted, because we would be a tank!

On a related note, my dad's college housemate thought he drove a tank. He put a gun rack in his car and thought that made it a tank and therefore impervious to traffic laws. He also stole things from the other housemates and sold them. I hope he's well-medicated now, as he's a well-known Ann Arbor lawyer and also a member of the City Council or School Board or something.

srah | 2:14 PM | TrackBack
Tags: ann arbor, travel


We went to Stonehenge today. I didn't tell anyone, but I was a bit disappointed. It was neither as mystical nor as touristy as I had expected. There was no wide-open Salisbury Plain to marvel at and to frame the site - it was full of sheep. At the same time, I expected it to be either mystical or tacky and it wasn't really either. It's a mystery, how and why the stones got there... but it didn't really pique my curiosity. It pretty much made me go "Huh. Lookit that."

srah | 9:33 AM | TrackBack
Tags: travel

March 2, 2003

Not that he was stunning to start with

I was watching a very interesting progam tonight about the war in Iraq. It was a debate between a group of New Yorkers an da group of Jordanians, and they would switch back and forth between NYC and Amman.

I was getting ready for bed and using the TV as background noise when I heard the voice of Wallace Shawn, the actor perhaps best known as Vizzini in The Princess Bride. I wondered what he was doing on the panel and turned to look at the screen. Geez, I thought to myself, Wallace has really let himself go. He looks terrible. Then the identification popped up and it turned out it was Ed Koch, fomer mayor of NYC. It was uncanny. If, for some reason, they want to make a movie about Ed Koch, all Wallace needs is a bit of makeup.

srah | 5:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 1, 2003

Dod save our dracious tween

Here we are in Royston, Hertsfordshire. Or maybe it's Cambridgeshire. I never know where I am around here. Uncle Reg lives in a small village in one county but his address is in the other.

Tonight we went to a quiz night sponsored by the Royston Photographic Society. I had a lot of fun and two glasses of wine, as Yiz ordered me a new one even before I'd finished the first. The quiz was good and challenging, especially for Americans with no idea who Huey Green is, let alone what his connection is to the musical clue. And for the general knowledge of readers, I will share the very useful bits of trivia that the three types of swan in Britain are the Hooper, Buick and Mute, that London trains to Sheffield leave from St Pancras station, and that Robbie Williams comes from Stoke-on-Trent (also home to many brands of china). We ended up 5th out of 8, mostly due to bad luck and using our double-points joker on the wrong round.

srah | 5:47 PM | TrackBack
Tags: alcohol, quiz night, travel, trivia

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