428 entries from srah blah blah tagged with 'assistantship':

You, you will be mean/ And I... I'll drink all the time!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40k7SkXi3Rc I just came across this video on the preparation of absinthe (how do I find these things? I don't even remember) and it reminded me of our parties back when I was living in Vichy. I tasted some absinthe at one of those parties, but it didn't make much of an impression. For one thing, about 4.5 years later, I don't remember what it tasted like. For another thing, even when I came home from the party that night, I blogged about tequila and Michigan accents instead. It all seems like so much work, with the special flatware and...

srah - Monday, 5 November 2007 - 10:51 PM
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Hello. Is it me you're looking for?

One day back when I was a teaching assistant in France, one of my students called me over to him in class. The students were supposed to be working individually on some assignment, so I assumed he was trying to get my attention to ask me a question about English for the work he was doing. I walked over to him and he quietly asked me (in English, if I remember correctly), "Do you like Lionel Richie?" Of all the things he could have asked me, I think that may be the last one I would have guessed. Lionel Richie...

srah - Tuesday, 5 December 2006 - 8:52 PM
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Lost and found

I cleaned off my desk last night. To some of you, this may be a throwaway comment about the status of my moving efforts. Those of you who have seen my desk will realize what an undertaking this was. I haven't seen the surface of this desk in over three years. As I got to the bottom levels, I started discovering cards from my college graduation in 2002. This desk was piled in papers, to the point where I felt like it was impossible to tackle. But I have tackled it and wrestled it into some semblance of order, put...

srah - Tuesday, 11 October 2005 - 9:38 AM
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'Can it be true? That I hold here in my mortal hand a nugget of purest green?'

On our last night in France last year, at the end of the assistantship, Renata, Jenny and I went out for Indian food. We found a restaurant just by wandering around and I happened to look up and see that it was in the Rue Nicholas Flamel. At the time, I only knew Flamel as the "only known maker of the Philosopher's [or Sorcerer's] Stone" from the Harry Potter books, but it turns out that he really existed. Flamel was a fourteenth-century French alchemist and that he really was rumoured to possess the Philosopher's Stone, which is supposed to create...

srah - Thursday, 15 July 2004 - 5:58 AM
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Bise me not

A friend of my sister had to interview me for her French class. Ooo-ee, I am so important. So I figured I might as well post my answers here as well. 1. What is the primary difference you found when teaching in France? I've never taught in the US, so I can't be sure of any differences between the two systems. I think that the American system is more coddling, but the French system is less supportive of the students. 2. Where in France did you teach? I taught in a technical/professional high school in Cusset, a small town just...

srah - Wednesday, 29 October 2003 - 2:31 AM
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The Librarian Hat and Webmaster Beanie are thrown to the wind*. My head, today, is clad in the Peer Advisor Sombrero. I've been enlisted to participate in a Work Abroad information session, representing the France assistantship. Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? All of this must be summarized in a presentation of less than five minutes. As you may know, when the subject of the assistantship comes up, I am either completely reticent or completely unshutuppable. I have also been asked to write articles about my experience for the Office. How many do you need? Because I could write about...

srah - Thursday, 18 September 2003 - 12:11 PM
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Enthusiasm galore!

This morning's cheese rant has been published as the first of the Assistant Stories at the brand spanking new Assistants in France website (courtesy of the talented Lee). Do you have any suggestions for future Assistant Stories? It could be a story I've already posted, something you'd like to know about my time as an assistant, or a short post that needs to be fleshed out into a full story. Let me know if you do. Or if you don't. Inspire me. Or don't....

srah - Friday, 8 August 2003 - 2:11 PM
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Would you like some Fourme d'Ambert with that St-Pourçain?

Before I left for Grenoble, I would tell people I was going to live in France for a year, and they would inform me that I was going to return full of valuable knowledge about wine and cheese. I did eat some cheese and drink some wine during the year, but not huge amounts of either. I never knew what I was eating or drinking because it was whatever was in the bottle or the cheese box at my host family's house, and it didn't make much difference to me. I found a cheese or two that I liked and...

srah - Friday, 8 August 2003 - 10:17 AM
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Votre dévouée élève, qui vous aime de tout son coeur

While reading The Professor (thanks for suggesting it, Katie), I was full of fantasies about updating it (à la Pride & Prejudice/Bridget Jones), writing a novel loosely based on it, or bringing it to the big screen. The book is about an Englishman who is unhappy in his work, so he goes off to Belgium and teaches English. I like it despite the protagonist's airs of grandeur, because there are parts that remind me of my experiences as a teaching assistant in France. No man likes to acknowledge that he has made a mistake in the choice of his profession,...

srah - Thursday, 24 July 2003 - 12:07 AM
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Crazy girl was not shunned by others at Borders

It is very comfortable when you can meet with strangers and, within minutes, get into the kind of conversation where you can't finish one thought before you start a new one, so you speak completely in varying layers of parentheses. I, who am often so shy with strangers, was so happy to meet other assistants that I bubbled over and was unshutuppable. I believe, however, that a good time was had by all....

srah - Wednesday, 16 July 2003 - 11:16 PM

La manque

I feel a bit alone. There is no one I can share it with; there is no one who knows exactly how I'm feeling. When I left Grenoble, I knew exactly where to find my host family, who were the only people I really knew in France. I knew that we would keep in touch, and I was sure that I would see them again and that they wouldn't forget me. I have no such guarantees for Vichy, so my heart is broken - 200 times over. I want to cry when I hear about the final exam results. I'm...

srah - Thursday, 10 July 2003 - 3:15 PM

Language Week: Friday

(Except posted on Saturday, because we were having Severe Thunderstorm Warnings and a National Holiday on Friday.) Bon, ben, voilà, je suis trop paresseuse pour écrire en espagnol, même si j'ai inventé cette semaine pour pratiquer cette langue-là. C'est trop difficile sans dictionnaire, et je n'ai pas très envie de chercher chaque mot sur Babelfish. Je suis très heureuse d'avoir réçu un mél d'Agnès, qui m'a dit que les résultats des examens finaux au lycée ont été affichés et qu'elle me les a envoyés. En travaillant en France, ça m'a choqué que là-bas, les résultats des examens sont affichés, sont...

srah - Saturday, 5 July 2003 - 11:27 AM
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"You guys gotta be... ambastards."

I think that as an assistante, I took more seriously my role as a cultural ambassador than my role as an English language instructor. One of my favorite lessons of the year was the one on Martin Luther King, Jr., where the students watched a video on MLK, and then were supposed to talk in English about their reactions. Sometimes they ended up speaking French instead, but had a good discussion. I should have made them speak English, but I was happy to be able to share American culture with them and cared more about comprehension than English. I think...

srah - Monday, 16 June 2003 - 12:21 PM


I dreamt that I was in a parking structure, driving my old car, Roger. Alex was in the passenger seat, and I laughed at him because the attendant was on his side, so he had to pay. I hate paying parking attendants, then quickly trying to get myself together to drive under the bar. So Alex had to do it, but as soon as we'd left the attendant, we came to a barricade where some kind of agent asked me to shift my weight back and forth from one butt-cheek to the other. When I did it and the car...

srah - Friday, 13 June 2003 - 8:59 AM
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This is just an excuse to try out the TrackBack function

I have re-discovered the assistants' group and am trying to lend my Great Knowledge and Experience (ha) to next year's crop, including the eleven million of them who are from Ann Arbor. I wish I had my archives in order, but instead I will have to point out the incomplete category archives for the assistantship, Vichy, and France, and let you read more as more posts get sorted into these categories....

srah - Tuesday, 10 June 2003 - 10:05 AM

Yes sir, it's glasses soup

Do you really care about whether your glasses match your outfit? It never occurred to me to own more than one pair of glasses at a time, but I knew people in Vichy who would choose their glasses for the day as a fashion accessory. Of course I hung around a lot of opticians, so maybe they could afford to be fashionable like that. I dunno. Glasses are for seeing, and clothes are for being not-naked. Fashion be damned....

srah - Tuesday, 3 June 2003 - 12:14 PM
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Even más fotos

Vulcania Vichy Brioude Brugge/Bruges Various trips in southern Auvergne NYC trip Shenandoah Valley...

srah - Saturday, 31 May 2003 - 10:49 PM
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I... I went to France, y'know...

I am a bit disappointed all of a sudden because I just realized that I can't remember a single person asking to see my pictures since I've been home. I've foisted them on several people, but I don't remember any requests. No one cares......

srah - Saturday, 24 May 2003 - 2:58 AM

As if I haven't quoted enough songs lately

I hadn't missed speaking French as much as I thought I would. I hadn't had a nervous breakdown and taken to wearing a tinfoil hat and muttering to myself in the corner. Then I listened to La pêche à la ligne on my headphones. ... C'est à peine l'aurore/ Et je tombe du plume/ Mon amour dort encore/ Du sommeil de l'enclume/ Je la laisse à ses rêves/ Où je n' suis sûrement pas/ Marlon Brando l'enlève,/ Qu'est c' que je foutrais là ?/ Sur un cheval sauvage,/ Ils s'en vont ridicules/ Dehors y a un orage,/ Y sont mouillés...

srah - Wednesday, 21 May 2003 - 4:00 PM
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Quiero mas hispanophones

I guess I was mentally prepared from last time for people not to understand me in French. My problem now is that no one understands me in French or in Spanish. It's frustrating when I say "Quiero una zanahoria" and Cheryl doesn't understand that I want a carrot. I am a mutant to come back from France speaking Spanish, but everyone in Vichy spoke some Spanish or could be taught....

srah - Thursday, 15 May 2003 - 4:25 PM
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Makes srahs happy:

Email from students. It's nice to know they haven't forgotten me already....

srah - Thursday, 15 May 2003 - 9:13 AM

I find your lack of nervous breakdown disappointing

Five days back in the United States and I'm still not wearing a tinfoil hat. Frankly, I'm disappointed in my adaptability....

srah - Saturday, 10 May 2003 - 11:28 AM

Hellooooo nurse!

I am happy to be home with my family, boyfriend, and computer. In any order in which you prefer to read them....

srah - Wednesday, 7 May 2003 - 8:07 PM

Qh1111 The reqdjust;ent1

I can4t type any;ore on these stupid Q;erican keyboqrds....

srah - Tuesday, 6 May 2003 - 8:42 AM

Pop idle

There is a series of vidéo clips showing on the plane. Jennifer Love Hewitt should not act, let alone sing, and looks disturbingly like Gene Simmons. What kind of horrible pop music have I missed in the last seven months? How has America changed in my absence?...

srah - Monday, 5 May 2003 - 5:57 PM
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Richard Gere in underwear causes airsickness

Our in-flight movies were Chicago and Maid in Manhattan, both of which I had already seen and neither of which I had particularly liked. Unfortunately I finished my book about two hours into the 8+ hour flight, so I was forced to watch. If you are interested, Maid in Manhattan was better in French....

srah - Monday, 5 May 2003 - 5:53 PM
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Delicate mental state

I was going to cry before we left Paris, but I decided I was too bored to cry. Now, after crossing the Frankfurt airport, which is full of Germans who didn't understand when I spoke French to them, I think it's time for the blubbering to commence....

srah - Monday, 5 May 2003 - 6:59 AM
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Meanwhile, back at the ranch

When I tell people that I'm going to grad school at U-M, they have a tendancy to say "Oh, so you can live at home! Oh... so you'll have to live at home..." as if living at home will be miserable or upsetting. I lived at home during my undergrad summers and had no problem, and when people react in this way, I tend to say that my family's not bad to live with. But now, 1.5 hours away from landing, it occurs to me that they may have been making those "Well... good luck..." faces not because it will...

srah - Monday, 5 May 2003 - 5:45 AM
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'We're from Vichy and we like to poop'

"Why did you miss your train, srah?" "Jenny locked me in our hotel room." Thankfully this scenario was only imagined, but... The door of our hotel has three locks, none of which really work from the inside. But after the receptionist hit on her, Jenny was concerned about being Raped By The Man and tried to lock him out. Which was all very well and good, except that she couldn't get it back open. We had visions of trying to break the key off the rings and slide it under/over the door so Renata could rescue us, but after 5...

srah - Sunday, 4 May 2003 - 11:25 PM

Travel woes

How on Earth am I going to get all the way home? Why on Earth do I have so much luggage? At least Renata, Jennifer and I are all leaving from Paris on Monday so we're making the impossible voyage together....

srah - Sunday, 4 May 2003 - 8:20 AM
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'Tis the season

I feel the need to point out that today, May 4, 2003, I heard the song Last Christmas on Cherie FM-Vichy....

srah - Sunday, 4 May 2003 - 3:07 AM

Boba Fett in Vichy

Just when you thought Vichy couldn't get any stranger, along comes the Cusset Star Wars Convention complete with special guest Boba Fett. It's a shame it's coming at a time when I have so much to do, because I would have gone just to experience the weirdness and to say hi to Boba....

srah - Friday, 2 May 2003 - 3:00 PM
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And I have pictures

This weekend I have worn a turban and a flowered crown. I have been granted a diploma for weirdness. I have witnessed the birth of Shakiro, the Colombian thong-wearing street performer. I have helped to hold down a cat so that it could be given a mohawk haircut. I have learned how to say "take off your pants" in Italian. Just a normal weekend in Aurillac, quoi....

srah - Friday, 2 May 2003 - 1:14 AM

Please don't mug me

I went to the bank to close my account and they gave me all of my money in cash. I have never seen so much money in one place. The freakazoid teller compained that she hadn't known in advance, when I had made the appointment to fermer mon compte a week ago. Thus she was not prepared and only had one billet de cinq cent, so everything else was in 100s and 50s. I now have this enormous wad of cash and I don't know whether to carry it with me everywhere I go for safekeeping or hide it for...

srah - Wednesday, 30 April 2003 - 3:51 AM

Just another day at the cybercafé

Dennis/Christophe just gave me roses as a going-away gift and kissed me on the top of the head. This is a strange place....

srah - Tuesday, 29 April 2003 - 12:15 PM
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Vincent had the wrong idea

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 of ears turn in my general direction during school hours, but they don't do a lot of listening. More importantly, I don't have any ears to fondle. But the day will come when I will have several pairs of ears at my caressing disposal and I can go back to being the weird ear-fetishist that everyone knows and loves....

srah - Monday, 28 April 2003 - 4:01 PM
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We really don't have enough contact with the Portuguese in the US. I don't think I had given Portugal another thought since we learned about their XVIth century conquests and the Line of Demarcation. They seemed to disappear from history and geography after that. I desperately need to find an attractive Portuguese man. I am in danger of creating my entire image of XXIst century Portugal based on the two Portuguese men I've seen on TV, in C'est mon choix and Nice People. There must be interesting and attractive men in the country, but apparently they don't export well....

srah - Sunday, 27 April 2003 - 9:04 AM
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Travel panic

Ces connards at the Grenoble train station sold me a ticket for the 25th when I asked for the 27th. For the TGV, it doesn't create any graves problèmes, but for the Thalys to Bruxelles, my billet n'est plus valable. What unbelievable assholerie. I am an idiot myself for not checking the date on the ticket, but I've never had this happen to me before and it never even occurred to me. If they make me pay for a new ticket, I will bite someone....

srah - Sunday, 27 April 2003 - 8:44 AM
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La question que tout le monde se pose

The damned Belgian on Nice People speaks five languages. The damned Belgian I'm visiting tomorrow speaks at least six. Why was I not born in Belgium? Sophie and I are both disappointed that our parents aren't foreign, as this would have given us a fine linguistic head-start. Being Belgian or Luxembourgeois wouldn't have hurt, either....

srah - Saturday, 26 April 2003 - 6:09 PM
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Shameless watcher of bad TV tells all

I watched the first episode of Nice People tonight. It's a reality show where they're locking young people of various European countries up in a villa, then voting them off one by one. A sort of cross between The Real World, Survivor, and an auberge espagnole. Personally, I think it's a shame that anyone has to be voted off, because the pleasure could just be from watching people from different nationalities interact, like the assistants do. Voting people off means we won't see them anymore and that someone will have to win. Yechhhh....

srah - Saturday, 26 April 2003 - 5:49 PM
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De retour à Grenoble

I am spending the weekend in Grenoble with my host family. Sophie slept in, so I snuck out to run errands and take advantage of the Big City. Everything is pretty much as it was, the mountains are still lovely, I got to do a bit of shopping, and I even had 54 minutes left on my cybercafé account. I find that my disdain for Americans In France extends to my fellow CUEF students now and that even when one of them was talking about Michigan, I couldn't bring myself to associate with them....

srah - Friday, 25 April 2003 - 7:30 AM
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Hey you! On the bicycle!

Spotted today in the Capital of All Things Weird: a car inching (or should I say centimetring?) down the road, a speaker strapped to the top. Unfortunately, they were not advertising a Rhythm and Blues Show, but some kind of reptile extravaganza in Cusset with Real Live Crocodiles From America!...

srah - Thursday, 24 April 2003 - 12:32 PM
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Life is a bowl of vichyssoise

I haven't decided yet why, but it is. It would have made a good tagline, if I'd come up with it more than 12 days before my departure......

srah - Wednesday, 23 April 2003 - 4:48 PM

Going to the movies alone

Saw Laisse tes mains sur mes hanches tonight, which wasn't particularly spectacular and just made me feel lonely. My observations on the film and its previews: Jean-Hugues Anglade looks like a French Kevin Spacey. Mmmm, French. Mmmm, Kevin Spacey. If I see another preview for The Recruit, I am going to bite someone. The Hulk looks disturbingly similar to Shrek. And the saddest thing about my departure from France is that I will miss the June 11 release of Mais, qui a tué Pamela Rose?, the greatest French cinematic classic since La Tour Montparnasse infernale....

srah - Wednesday, 23 April 2003 - 4:36 PM
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Whirlwind ending

I'm off to Grenoble tomorrow, then to Belgium from there, then I'll return around the 29th to close my bank account, and I may be off again on the 30th or 1st to Aurillac, if I'm all packed and ready to go. Don't worry if I'm not posting - I'm sure I'll be writing anyway and you'll get a big glut of posts whenever I get a chance to type!...

srah - Wednesday, 23 April 2003 - 4:06 AM
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More ennuis

Another thing that will be difficult to handle is the inevitable question: How was France? "Good," I will reply. My interlocutor will look at me expectantly. "Really good," I will add. On the other hand, I may end up with someone who will press me for more information, and who will unwittingly open up the floodgates of monologue, so that I will talk for hours on end about everything that's happened to me over the past seven months. I can already envision the difficulty I will have getting people to understand the sheer Stefanocity of Stefan. I don't know if...

srah - Tuesday, 22 April 2003 - 4:01 PM

Another fun day at the cybercafé

LOVE CATS! LOVE! CATS! Make it stop......

srah - Tuesday, 22 April 2003 - 9:37 AM
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Bon cinéma!

For weeks now, I've been looking forward to seeing Bon Voyage. The previews looked incredibly stupid, but the leading man looked really hot. No, not Gérard Depardieu. The other leading man. Anyway, WWII-era costumes and Grégori Derangère were all this movie had going for it in my opinion, but I am shallow, so I considered it well worth paying 6€ to see a Hot Guy In Costume. I am glad I did, because it turned out to be a funny, dramatic, good movie with, as an added bonus, scenes filmed at the Aletti Palace Hotel in Vichy. Rather ironic that...

srah - Monday, 21 April 2003 - 5:17 PM
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Ah, ces Américaines!

Vichy, as we know, is insane. While everything was unexpectedly open on Easter Sunday, everything was unexpectedly closed on the fake fake holiday of Easter Monday. We managed, however, to have a visit to our favorite salon de thé (yes, THOTs, we are old ladies), where I nibbled on a Paris-Brest and drank a thé au lait (rather than protein-rich beet juice). There's a joke in there somewhere, but I don't expect you to get it and I'm certainly not going to explain it....

srah - Monday, 21 April 2003 - 12:59 PM
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Renaud was so adorable in Wanted that we squealed whenever he came onscreen. I was in a Renaud mood when I got home, so I put on the Best of '75-'85 CD I burned from Renata. In Dès que le vent soufflera, Renaud sings "La mer, c'est dégueulasse/ Les poissons baisent dedans." In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, after Indy bluffs to the Germans that Marcus Brody will blend in and disappear in Egypt, it flashes to Marcus in Cairo, looking for someone who speaks English or ancient Greek. When someone offers him some water, if you listen carefully,...

srah - Sunday, 20 April 2003 - 5:46 PM
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'If you say baseball one more time, Zéro is going to shoot you.'

A cinematic masterpiece has been born! Renata, Jennifer and I finished off our Traditional Easter Sunday with a kebab and a movie. We went to see Wanted, wherein a band of French braqueurs including Gérard Depardieu, Johnny Hallyday, and an adorable gun-toting Renaud, set off for Chicago for a heist. They wind up with the FBI, the Chicago Mafia, and a Latino gang all after them, and hijinks and gunfights ensue. It is wonderful and perfect, and yet not really a good movie. Nonetheless, I suggest it highly. The weird thing about the movie is that it seems to have...

srah - Sunday, 20 April 2003 - 5:23 PM
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Sunday, damn bloody Sunday

One thing I will not miss about Vichy is Sunday afternoons. It reminds me of Art Fair in Ann Arbor. Suddenly the town is invaded by hordes of shoppers who descend upon it, much to the chagrin of the natives who can't get anywhere because of the crowds. Strangely enough, both cases involve Andean pipe bands playing on street corners and selling their discs. Vichy, as a heavily touristic town, is one of the few places in France where shops open on Sundays. Thus people come from all over the region to shop, to see, to be seen, and to...

srah - Sunday, 20 April 2003 - 1:07 PM
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Frightening prospect

People threatened me with nervous breakdowns the last time I came home from France, and nothing happened. I'm afraid it will this time....

srah - Sunday, 20 April 2003 - 12:40 PM

Easter morning in Vichy

We woke up this morning and Renata made us French French French French French French Toast. Then we ate cookies and chocolate-covered marshmallows, and watched Télé-Foot. We have come to the decision that we will reform the rules of soccer by requiring all footballers to remove their shirts after every goal. We feel that this would make a great difference to the sport and increase ratings in the ever-valuable Female and Gay Male demographics. Then we watched a crappy talk show where the subject was Who is the most seductive European? They brought on male guests from Norway, Italy, Portugal,...

srah - Sunday, 20 April 2003 - 12:01 PM
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Briouding in the rain

Everyone left this morning, and only the Americans remain. We took a trip to Brioude today, to see Eleonora, yet another assistante colombienne. It's a small town, but it has a XIth century basilica and several assistants and is very nice. We had a walk around town, a drink in a café, and pastries chez Eleonora, then tripped off towards the gare in the rain before regaling our fellow train passengers by singing delightful songs that they really appreciated. Almost as much as they appreciated the smell of Renata's feet. We came back to Vichy, made Whatever We Have Sitting...

srah - Saturday, 19 April 2003 - 5:52 PM
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Last post from Valéry Larbaud

And I have nothing to say. Bye folks. Hope I'll see you again soon. If not, behave yourselves and be wonderful people. Hasta la proxima. Ciao....

srah - Friday, 18 April 2003 - 12:05 PM

¡La hora de la siesta!

And now for the resumé of today's Spanish lessons, just because the THOTs seem to be amused by it. I will talk about my lesson with the 1ASMS, because the mendigo cartoon wasn't very interesting and de toutes les façons, Rémy has already read all of the notes I took during the first hour. En mi segunda clase de español del dia, vemos un comic que habla de una familia que ve demasiado television. Una noche, la mujer se despierta a las dos y veinte de la mañana. Mira a su marido, que sigue durmiendo. Se levanta y pone una...

srah - Friday, 18 April 2003 - 11:11 AM
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I need a nap

I may keel over dead. Two and a half hours to go. I may also fall asleep in Spanish class. I have just realized that I came completely unprepared for Spanish. Great. Must aller renseigner myself as to what we're doing today. On the positive side, I finally got my cup of tea and watched opticians playing mini-golf. I feel like the school has gone insane today. Maybe it's me. Carrément. Ouais. C'est sûr. I felt that had to be said: further proof that it is me. Night night....

srah - Friday, 18 April 2003 - 8:25 AM

Ho hum

Never mind. I'm a dumb ass. Tables and chairs and a sign that says "Tea Room" really should have tipped me off. Must go consume liquids....

srah - Friday, 18 April 2003 - 5:51 AM
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La balade anglaise

It's the day of the Commerce students' big project. They have decorated the school like an English street and brought local merchants in to sell British wares. It's a bit surreal that in addition to the electronic humming bell we usually have, we also have a recording of Big Ben to announce the breaks between classes. If we are so English today, why can I still not get a cup of tea? Teeeeeeeeeeeeeea....

srah - Friday, 18 April 2003 - 5:44 AM
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Good morning!

Went out faising la fête with a mess of opticians last night. Opticians like cookies and Reese's cups, if you are ever interested in buying their affections. They also like to drink alcohol and then speak English... or just drink alcohol. Or just speak English. Would you like some pâté? But of course! And I would like some carrots also! I give you some wine. Yes, I want some wine! We went to Aurélie's for the apéro, out to dinner, to the Fous du Roy, and finally ended up at Le Loft, a newish night club with an excessive number...

srah - Friday, 18 April 2003 - 5:33 AM


I dreamt last night that I pinned one of my students down on the ground and tickled him. I won't identify him here, and that way all of my students can fantasize that they were the lucky victim....

srah - Thursday, 17 April 2003 - 9:43 AM
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Retour au futur

Agnès and I were talking about my return to the US and she mentioned that my universe will change completely when I return. I've realized she's right. When I was in Grenoble I met people and had experiences, but between classes and family life, things were quite similar to my life aux USA. Now I will be moving back to an environment completely different from the one I've adjusted to here and there are probably over 300 faces I will never see again. Three hundred people I have met here, who I might never see again, whether they be students,...

srah - Wednesday, 16 April 2003 - 6:12 PM

Movie night - again

I went to Agnès' ce soir for dinner and a movie. We talked about end-of-the-year activities and watched Mon Oncle by Jacques Tati, a comedy without dialogue. There's speech, but it's almost unnecessary. Monsieur Hulot must be the ancestor of Mr Bean, but his character was set in a futuristic world from the 1950s. Very funny little thing and I'm glad I passed up Pile et Face to get a chance to see it....

srah - Wednesday, 16 April 2003 - 6:02 PM
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Renata's money can buy knives

Renata, Jennifer and I made a trip to Thiers this afternoon, to revisit the site of one of our first voyages ensemble, and so that Renata could buy some knives. We had a walk by the river and up and down the hills of the town, enjoying the delapidated romance of the lovely city. We returned to the same pâtisserie we'd loitered in the last time and I had a thiernoise, the local delicacy: layers of meringue and praline cream covered in a chocolate shell. Jehosephat, it was tasty. We returned to Vichy and - much to the delight of...

srah - Wednesday, 16 April 2003 - 5:57 PM
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It has suddenly struck me that when I go home, the main problem may be boredom. This is completely ridiculous, since I regularly complained of boredom here in Vichy, where I don't have a TV or computer. I think, instead, that I fear monotony. I fear that life won't be as incredibly strange and unpredictable as it has been here in the Epicenter of All Things Weird....

srah - Tuesday, 15 April 2003 - 6:46 PM
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Movie night

We saw the Club Cinéma movie Mies vailla menneisyyttä tonight. I am now fascinated by Finland and the language, and even more fascinated by the fact that French has two different words for the people (finlandais) and the language (finnois) of the country....

srah - Tuesday, 15 April 2003 - 5:46 PM
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There's vomit on her sweater: mom's spaghetti

First of all, I am in no way in favor of wearing vomit-stained clothing. In fact, you might go so far as to say I am against this practice. Second of all, if I was wearing a sweater onto which I had vomited my mom's spaghetti, it would be unspeakably atrocious. I haven't eaten my mom's spaghetti in at least seven months. Can you imagine how that would reek? So no, I am not wearing a vomit-stained sweater. I just felt I needed a title for this post. So after the long introduction and explanation, I bring you the main...

srah - Tuesday, 15 April 2003 - 12:34 PM
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Plans for the future

"So, Sarah, you finish work this week, but you don't leave until May 5. What are you going to do inbetween?" No idea. First I have to get through L'homme sans passé, a trip to Thiers, movie night chez Agnès, faising la fête avec les S2OL, la Balade Anglaise, a goodbye party for all of the assistants, shutting off my phone, filling out paperwork, leaving information for the next assistant, and setting up an appointment to close my bank account. Then, and only then, can I start to think about vacation. So it will be a while. Beurk....

srah - Tuesday, 15 April 2003 - 11:12 AM

A rather uninteresting tale

As requested by Katie, here is the suite of the Story Of My Stalking Neighbor. As my loyal readers know, I finally got up the nerve and told him I didn't want to see him. And now I don't anymore. I am almost disappointed, because it's so anti-climactic. It doesn't give me any fascinating stories to write about in my blog, and thus I forget to inform my readers... because nothing has happened. We still pass each other in the courtyard and I say "Bonjour" because I am civil and American and such, but he has left me alone. So......

srah - Tuesday, 15 April 2003 - 11:00 AM
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Hooray, I am popular

The S2OLs have invited me out for couscous chez somebody on Thursday night. I will be there with bells on. Figuratively. More likely with cookies on, I imagine....

srah - Tuesday, 15 April 2003 - 9:33 AM

Notes on the cahier

I am hiding out in one of the computer rooms, trying to come up with things to do on the computer in order to avoid popping into the salle des profs every two seconds. I have left my cahier de souvenirs in the teachers' lounge for the last hour and a half, in the hopes that at least one teacher will have signed it when I finally emerge and peek. Probably not. I'm wondering if it would be indiscreet to quote some of the entries left by students (males in particular) in my cahier here in my weblog, just because...

srah - Tuesday, 15 April 2003 - 9:29 AM

Wouldja like to take a survey?

Renata and I have been conducting a survey for the past few days and I would like to invite you, dear readers, to take part. There are two questions. 1) Is the best flavor of tea "Renata's Ass"? Yes or yes? 2) Spanish sucks. Thank you for participating. Your answers will be ignored. Oh, the insanity. This is what happens when Renata and I are hopped up on chocolate chip cookies and Franglais....

srah - Tuesday, 15 April 2003 - 5:18 AM

Last day of classes

I'm going to miss these little buggers. Even the ones who never wanted to work. Especially the ones who never wanted to work. There are so many silly things, but also so many lovely things written in my cahier de souvenirs. You make me laugh out loud, and I'm going to go cry now. I'll miss you....

srah - Monday, 14 April 2003 - 10:27 AM
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More end-of year observations

I feel so much happier these days, especially after reading the inscriptions in my cahier de souvenirs. Even if they're flat-out lying, it's nice to finally realize that I was appreciated, and I find that the last-period classes are very happy and fun and relaxed. I should have done this earlier!...

srah - Monday, 14 April 2003 - 6:15 AM
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All hail Sarah

Once again, I am the chouchou of the cybercafé. And all it took to buy their affections was a dozen homemade American-style chocolate chip cookies. Yay me....

srah - Sunday, 13 April 2003 - 9:52 AM
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Be wary

It has suddenly occurred to me that this kind invitation to spend the night may be nothing less than a ruse to keep my cookies hostage in the apartment. We must be on the alert for cookie-rustlers....

srah - Saturday, 12 April 2003 - 7:53 PM

S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y night

My marathon of cookie-baking is finally at an end and I am spending the night in Stefan's bed. Unfortunately (or "fortunately", as it is pronounced in Chilean), Stefan is not in it. I knew that I had some chocolate chips and I thought I would use them up before I leave, by making cookies for my SMS students' wee party on Tuesday. When I got home and actually looked, I discovered that although I no longer have a four, I had managed to accumulate 1.5 bags of chocolate chips, a bag of peanut butter chips, half a bag of Hershey's...

srah - Saturday, 12 April 2003 - 7:46 AM
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Today's longing

I miss popcorn and toast....

srah - Saturday, 12 April 2003 - 4:15 AM
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Go away, Mr Clown, you scare me

Saw an entertaining movie called Effroyables Jardins ce soir with Renata and Andrés. Despite a large number of clowns figuring prominently in the film, it managed to be enjoyable and sad. It is unusual for me to be unhappy during scenes of violence against clowns, but this film managed it....

srah - Friday, 11 April 2003 - 4:57 PM
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En la clase de español

Hoy, estudiamos la grammatica de francés. Para aprender lenguas, es muy importante conocer bien su misma lengua, entonces revisamos el subjunctivo y el condicional de francés antes de estudiar esos tiempos en español. Correct me, lurking Spanish speakers. I know you're there. If you let me prattle along in bad Spanish, I will always sound like an evil baby. Please help me learn to talk like a hillbilly instead....

srah - Friday, 11 April 2003 - 11:16 AM
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A plaintive wail

I don't want to leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeave......

srah - Friday, 11 April 2003 - 7:54 AM

Note to students discovering my site for the first time

Si j'accomplis une chose cette année, je voudrais que vous reteniez ces deux mots et que vous cessiez de dire le mot français avec une prononciation anglaise: interessant interesting et soucis worries. Interessant and soucis do not exist in English, and it is my mission in life to prevent you from using them. Have a good vacation and go sign my guestbook....

srah - Thursday, 10 April 2003 - 10:32 AM
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The final Thursday

When I first arrived at the school, I said that one of my hobbies was making websites, and I wrote the address on the board. Now, at the last session of each class, I write my email address and website address on the board so that my students can keep in touch, and give them a little song and dance about how this is the last time I'm going to see them and if they'd like to keep in contact with me, they can find me there. "C'est quoi, ça?" they ask. "Ben... c'est mon adresse de courrier électronique et...

srah - Thursday, 10 April 2003 - 10:31 AM
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Nearing the finish line

I just found out that both of my Thursday classes are cancelled next week. My Tuesday classes are having parties, so I finish working Monday at 4pm. It's all happening so suddenly. I want to take pictures of my students, but I'm not going to catch up with everyone. I want to tell everyone to look me up if they come to the States, but I forget when the end of the hour rolls around. I'm still learning people's names. I barely know these kids, and I would have liked to have had the chance to know them better. I...

srah - Thursday, 10 April 2003 - 6:52 AM
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Sarah Sarah über alles

I have declared myself la reine des mouchoirs, due to my constant sniffling and nose-blowing. I have invited Andrés to be le roi, as he is the latest victim of the Vichy Death Plague and we sniffled and suffered together all weekend, surely infecting everyone else. I also declared myself Emperor of Germany, but that's just because I'm insane....

srah - Thursday, 10 April 2003 - 5:37 AM
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Well? Who needs to get well?

I am off to Aurillac again this evening, to spend some bonding time with my fellow assistants before we are cruelly torn apart by the Fates. Hopefully I will come up with something to do in class on Thursday while I am there. Hopefully I will get some sleep and my cold will get better - or at least not any worse. Hopefully my little friends will all sign my cahier de souvenirs and we will dance and joyously sing. Or something. Goodbye and I'll blog to you on Thursday....

srah - Tuesday, 8 April 2003 - 4:09 AM
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Un seul élève

One student. ONE STUDENT! At the last class session before I leave! Cursèd bureaucracy. They could have told us in advance that the students would be doing oral exams today and would miss class. It is a lot harder to be an assistant if you never have any students to assist....

srah - Monday, 7 April 2003 - 4:25 PM
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Have you been snuffled by a mammoth today?

Andrés, Claude, Renata, and my drugged-up self went on a car trip this afternoon to Vulcania, a museum/learning experience in the middle of the chaîne des puys. It is an enormous place and required more than the three hours we had for it. The subject is volcanoes and it focuses a bit on the puys, but it also touches on other seismic activity and volcanoes all over the world. It reminded me somewhat of Dynamic Earth, minus the lovely narration by John Hannah. There were many interesting video presentations, including one in 3-D (complete with groovy glasses) showing different eras...

srah - Saturday, 5 April 2003 - 4:34 PM
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What to do?

I have two weeks left teaching. That means I'm going to see some of my students for the last time this week. I ought to do something really special, but I don't know what. I have to take pictures and bake a lot of cookies or banana bread or pumpkin pie. I have to come up with a superfun game to play and remember to give everyone my email address, but I also still have to keep from giving the teachers the impression that I'm slacking off because it's the end of my time here (even if it's true). Ah,...

srah - Saturday, 5 April 2003 - 4:25 PM
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More drug-crazed ramblings

At least I realize they're drug-crazed ramblings. That's something, at least. In between sending telegrams to The Front (textos to Renata), my other personality, the Major-General, has come up with the observation that girls are like cats and boys are like dogs. Or maybe it was me who came up with that. It's so crowded in there, it's hard to tell. Anyway, between the two (or seventeen, or however many there are) of us, we have managed to forget the evidence to support our claim, except that boys are often less complicated and more eager and drool a lot more....

srah - Saturday, 5 April 2003 - 7:21 AM
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What ho!

I don't believe in silverware. Especially when I'm sick. It's soup bowls to mouths for the duration, laddies! Has anyone else noticed that these drugs seem to have turned me into a British officer from a WWII movie? I better not run into Stefan or Johanna until I've recovered, or I might feel obliged to "stick it to the Jerries." Whatever that means. Toodle-oo, chaps!...

srah - Saturday, 5 April 2003 - 7:01 AM
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Lunchtime... or the munchies?

I sink I am a widdle dwugged out by the Fervex. It may be, however, that I want to be drugged out and am making myself think that I am. Intewesting....

srah - Saturday, 5 April 2003 - 6:39 AM
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May 5th

Not that I'm counting or anything, but there's one month and one day left... ... until I am at home, smooching the evil dog and kicking the boyfriend. Or vice versa. Or not. ... until I can see the people I haven't seen since September. ... until I am living in a house with a dishwasher. ... until I can drink Vanilla Coke and eat at Arby's. ... until I can watch television, videos, and DVDs in my own home. ... until I can abuse my sister physically, instead of just doing so on the Internet. ... until I am...

srah - Friday, 4 April 2003 - 11:13 AM


Hoy día en la clase de español hablamos de McDonald's. Mis estudiantes, que son estudiantes de hoteleria, y que deben tener standards, van al McDonald's dos veces por semana. Might as well use my Spanish, or I'm going to keep forgetting it. When Sonia asked the students who enjoyed going to McDonald's, the hand of the petite ricaine was one of the few that wasn't raised. I was afraid during the whole class period that I was going to be asked for the American opinion on McDonald's. In Spanish. I wouldn't say that I don't like fast food - because...

srah - Friday, 4 April 2003 - 9:30 AM
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's only a flesh wound

I am very disappointed in myself for leaving work today. I left Véronique a note and took off because I was not getting any better and all I would do was stare blankly into space, trying not to fall over. I don't know if it's the Protestant Work Ethic or what, but I was disappointed in myself for not being able to work through it. This is the first time I've left work for health reasons - I even came in earlier in the year when I was shivery and nauseous and faint. I don't like to let anyone down,...

srah - Thursday, 3 April 2003 - 1:55 PM
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I hate Thursdays

I never ever ever get to teach on Thursdays. And yet I still have to come in. I have to come in to discover that there's a transport strike or a teachers' strike or something today. Of course, this is being treated by the students as a students' strike, so I only have two students to teach, so class is cancelled. J'en ai marre! I could be sleeping and nursing my poor sickie self back to health, but I had to get up and come in here. What's more, my afternoon class seems only to be missing two students, so...

srah - Thursday, 3 April 2003 - 3:25 AM

Beautiful sentiment

Excerpted from a texto from Andrês received today: thanks for existing Srah I think that's one of the nicest things anyone's ever said to me. It's very nice to be thanked, not for anything you consciously did, but just for existing. Now I feel all warm and fuzzy. And shivery and phlegmy, but that's my cold....

srah - Thursday, 3 April 2003 - 2:17 AM
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Of course I didn't do it, but I wanted to

Sometimes the role of the assistant is one that requires great self-control. For example, when giving mock oral exams to an extremely nervous student who is stuttering and twitching, you must resist the urge to be overwhelmed with maternal instinct and take him in your arms and cuddle him and tell him everything is going to be okay. Especially if he is 23 years old....

srah - Wednesday, 2 April 2003 - 5:05 AM

Fear and Loathing at Presles

Last night as we ate chez les BTS, there was une guêpe flying around our heads and alighting on the ceiling light fixture. Then Renata, Johanna and I went back to the assistants' apartment to get ready for bowling. I lay on my back on Renata's bed, then felt something on my face. My blood ran cold. The wasp had somehow followed us through the hallway and was on my face. I reached my hand up... and discovered that the nosepad of my glasses had come unscrewed and had fallen off. I was able to sufficiently remedy the situation with...

srah - Wednesday, 2 April 2003 - 5:00 AM

Picture time (again)

I went bowling tonight with Johanna, Renata, and Amandine, Bernadette and Cédric, three BTS students from Presles who are Renata's neighbors. Johanna brought her digital camera, so I am instantly able to bring you shots from our outing, where I came in fourth with 78 points, having been in first place until the 8th frame. As if you cared. After bowling, I went back to Johanna's apartment and we looked at the pictures she's taken here, all of which seem to feature me in my Michigan sweatshirt. I swear, I do have other clothing. She let me copy some to...

srah - Tuesday, 1 April 2003 - 6:22 PM
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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...

srah - Monday, 31 March 2003 - 5:53 AM
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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...

srah - Sunday, 30 March 2003 - 3:20 PM
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'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...

srah - Sunday, 30 March 2003 - 4:21 AM

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...

srah - Sunday, 30 March 2003 - 1:54 AM
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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....

srah - Friday, 28 March 2003 - 1:58 PM
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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 - Friday, 28 March 2003 - 9:17 AM
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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 - Friday, 28 March 2003 - 5:24 AM
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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 - Friday, 28 March 2003 - 4:27 AM

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 - Thursday, 27 March 2003 - 10:31 AM


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 - Wednesday, 26 March 2003 - 9:18 AM
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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...

srah - Tuesday, 25 March 2003 - 4:25 PM
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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...

srah - Tuesday, 25 March 2003 - 2:40 AM
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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 - Monday, 24 March 2003 - 3:19 PM

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 - Sunday, 23 March 2003 - 2:29 PM
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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 - Sunday, 23 March 2003 - 2:28 PM
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Visit of the sister

Sophie 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 - Sunday, 23 March 2003 - 11:15 AM
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February Vacation pictures

Here they come: Vichy Grenoble Paris Meldreth Stonehenge Andover London...

srah - Friday, 21 March 2003 - 6:11 AM
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'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 - Thursday, 20 March 2003 - 11:38 AM

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 - Thursday, 20 March 2003 - 10:53 AM

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 - Thursday, 20 March 2003 - 10:47 AM

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...

srah - Thursday, 20 March 2003 - 6:42 AM

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 - Thursday, 20 March 2003 - 5:22 AM
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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 - Thursday, 20 March 2003 - 3:37 AM
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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 - Tuesday, 18 March 2003 - 2:43 PM

'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,...

srah - Tuesday, 18 March 2003 - 11:41 AM

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...

srah - Monday, 17 March 2003 - 5:43 PM
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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?...

srah - Monday, 17 March 2003 - 11:39 AM
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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 - Sunday, 16 March 2003 - 10:09 AM

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 - Sunday, 16 March 2003 - 3:51 AM
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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 - Thursday, 13 March 2003 - 11:43 AM

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! Christmas Break Vichy in the snow Yet more Valéry Larbaud Dîner des assistants Super-Besse Puy de Pariou Au châlet I shall take a break here and bring you February vacation photos in another post. G'day....

srah - Thursday, 13 March 2003 - 11:38 AM
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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....

srah - Thursday, 13 March 2003 - 11:36 AM
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Make me happy for only $17.95

Slap me with brie, if you please....

srah - Tuesday, 11 March 2003 - 4:25 PM
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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...

srah - Monday, 10 March 2003 - 9:25 AM
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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 - Monday, 10 March 2003 - 6:34 AM

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 - Sunday, 9 March 2003 - 9:34 AM
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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...

srah - Friday, 21 February 2003 - 4:25 PM

Raising a stink

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

srah - Friday, 21 February 2003 - 9:06 AM

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...

srah - Friday, 21 February 2003 - 9:05 AM
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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...

srah - Wednesday, 19 February 2003 - 5:38 AM
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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...

srah - Tuesday, 18 February 2003 - 8:39 AM

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 - Tuesday, 18 February 2003 - 3:15 AM
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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...

srah - Monday, 17 February 2003 - 11:03 AM
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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...

srah - Monday, 17 February 2003 - 3:12 AM

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 - Monday, 17 February 2003 - 2:14 AM

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...

srah - Sunday, 16 February 2003 - 12:45 PM
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What's snew

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

srah - Saturday, 15 February 2003 - 4:25 PM

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 - Saturday, 15 February 2003 - 6:43 AM

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...

srah - Saturday, 15 February 2003 - 6:30 AM
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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...

srah - Thursday, 13 February 2003 - 3:05 AM
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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 - Wednesday, 12 February 2003 - 4:25 PM
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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 - Tuesday, 11 February 2003 - 5:06 PM

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...

srah - Tuesday, 11 February 2003 - 3:54 PM

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...

srah - Tuesday, 11 February 2003 - 12:21 PM
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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 - Tuesday, 11 February 2003 - 6:06 AM
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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 - Monday, 10 February 2003 - 3:54 PM
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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...

srah - Monday, 10 February 2003 - 6:33 AM

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 - Saturday, 8 February 2003 - 4:26 PM
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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 - Saturday, 8 February 2003 - 2:48 PM

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...

srah - Saturday, 8 February 2003 - 2:45 PM

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,...

srah - Wednesday, 5 February 2003 - 2:09 PM

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...

srah - Tuesday, 4 February 2003 - 3:19 AM

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...

srah - Monday, 3 February 2003 - 6:19 AM
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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 - Sunday, 2 February 2003 - 4:26 PM

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...

srah - Sunday, 2 February 2003 - 11:40 AM
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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,...

srah - Saturday, 1 February 2003 - 7:07 AM
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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...

srah - Saturday, 1 February 2003 - 6:50 AM
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¡Hasta luego!

I'm off to Spanish class with the THOTs again, as we're leaving from Valéry Larbaud at 4pm for our weekend of snow and NOT skiing. I shall not allow myself to be convinced to ski. I shall remain stubborn as a mule and keep my limbs intact, thankyouverymuch....

srah - Friday, 31 January 2003 - 8:38 AM
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Snow snow snow

I spent yesterday afternoon and evening running around like a chicken with my head cut off, as the snow began to fall. I had all kinds of errands to get out of the way before the weekend, and meanwhile, we were being dumped on. These were the kind of snowflakes large enough to land on my nose and obstruct my vision for a few seconds before they melted. When I was done running around Vichy, I ran up to Presles, as we were having a big Assistant Potluck. I brought salad with green peppers, carrots, and mushrooms. By the time...

srah - Friday, 31 January 2003 - 8:27 AM
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Not only did I have class this afternoon, but they tried to get me to take the kids for four hours. I am not a substitute teacher, folks. What's more, they didn't tell me until I stopped by and asked at 12h55 that they wanted me to take the class at 13h. Funny, that....

srah - Thursday, 30 January 2003 - 10:02 AM

Communication problems

It snowed last night, so the roads were slippery. Usually when this happens, Veronique doesn't show up, so the first thing I did when I arrived at school was to go to the Vie Scolaire and ask if there were any profs d'anglais absent. They said yes, Veronique would be absent in the morning and maybe in the afternoon as well. I was pleased, as I'd been hurrying this morning to throw something together for the S1HOTs and now I could stop stressing. So I wandered around for a while, then Victor, head of the Vie Scolaire, found me and...

srah - Thursday, 30 January 2003 - 6:19 AM
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Excuses, excuses

I need a haircut, but I have an irrational fear of letting my hair be cut by strangers, especially strangers who don't speak English. Plus, I'm poor....

srah - Tuesday, 28 January 2003 - 12:51 PM
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I am in a funk where I claim to be bored even though there are letters to write, dishes to do, fruit to eat, books to read, and a blog-post beginning to develop in my head. I am tempted to go to sleep and put it all off until tomorrow, but that's been my plan of action all week and the dishes aren't going to do themselves....

srah - Tuesday, 28 January 2003 - 12:49 PM


I came home from work today, wrote the previous blog-post, and then fell into bed face-first. I dreamt that I was squatting a little pink house that no one wanted because it was pink, so I was pretty safe squatting there. I lived with a boyfriend who was not Alex, but I don't know who he was. Maybe he was no one I know in real life. Renata and I had joined a literary discussion group, so we took a bus from a bus station located inside the Centre Jaude mall in Clermont-Ferrand, heading off into the wilds of Auvergne...

srah - Monday, 27 January 2003 - 1:47 PM
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We (heart) murmurs

I always seem to find myself, when people learn that I've studied French and lived in France, discussing whether the French accent is as sexy as it is reputed to be. The assistants have had the same discussion, and can't really come to a clear conclusion. It is certainly true that there is nothing remotely sexy or attractive about being the English assistant and hearing a bored 15-year-old French accent say "At the Christmas, I go to buy the jeu vidéo for my bruzzère." On the other hand, it is always amusing to hear a well-formed sentence, especially from someone...

srah - Monday, 27 January 2003 - 11:15 AM
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Wasting away to nothing

Would you hate me if I told you that one of my big problems at the moment seems to be that I've lost weight? I don't remember this happening in Grenoble, but these days my pants seem to hang a bit lower, which means I have to cuff them, then I keep stepping on the cuffs and I have to yank them up so as not to expose my underpants. Whereas other people try diet after diet, I have never had any desire to lose weight, and here I am with what butt I had rapidly disappearing. Thus I bring...

srah - Monday, 27 January 2003 - 6:39 AM
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I still have not recovered from Nicolas' birthday and Moulins. I had to make an effort to stay awake in the dark while the S1OLs watched a video on Martin Luther King, and I still haven't settled on exactly what I'm doing with the THOTs. Perhaps I will teach them how to nap à l'américaine, whatever that means....

srah - Monday, 27 January 2003 - 6:29 AM

Painting Moulins rouge

On a fait la fête hier soir chez les Moulinoises. There are seven assistantes in Moulins, the prefecture of the Allier, about 45 minutes from Vichy. They were having a party, so we piled into Johanna's car (Stefan's orange bagnole is en panne in Poitiers at the moment) and drove off to their apartment, which is in the premier lycée de France, the lucky ducks. Food, wine, beer and coca poured in abundance, then we played a game of Mafia full of suicide, German conspiracy, and Renata and Becky refusing to kill me no matter how much I begged. Everyone...

srah - Sunday, 26 January 2003 - 6:03 AM
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Siempre quieren hablar el idioma que no debe se hablar

In order to make it to the Scrabble tournament on time, I went to the Spanish class at 3pm instead of my usual 4-5 one. This meant I was with the famed THOTs, who were rather fascinated to see me there. They all started speaking English as they settled into their seats, and Sonia replied in kind. I think I heard more English in that Spanish class than I usually hear when I have the THOTs. Maybe if Sonia spoke English to them all hour and I spoke Spanish in English class, we would both accomplish more. Bueno. ¿Que vamos...

srah - Saturday, 25 January 2003 - 4:57 AM
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'I didn't know you were called Dennis'

Mr Unnamed Cybercafé Employee kept bowing to me tonight and calling me "your highness". I really don't know what to do with him, so I smile and continue clicking away as he enters and exits the room genuflecting and trying to make me laugh or at least pay attention to him. It bothers me that I don't know his name, but I don't want to ask him because I think he would take it as a sign of interest and thus increased intimacy, when all I really want to do is surf the net, drink tea, pay, and leave. So...

srah - Friday, 24 January 2003 - 5:45 PM
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Closer Proximity

The party last night was in Nicolas' apartment, which is in the same building as the other apartment I looked at, before choosing my current one. On a failli être voisins, but financially it's probably for the best that we aren't. In addition to the rent being higher, the building is right next-door to the cybercafé. The last thing I need is to be closer, because sometimes even when I give in to the 4€/hour mental protests, the thing that keeps me from spending my whole life there is walking in the cold....

srah - Friday, 24 January 2003 - 5:39 PM

Más fotos

<-- Click on the various links to photos taken here for older photos. Les Sables d'Olonne Más Valéry Larbaud Party @ Presles Clermont-Ferrand Trip to the Cantal Fête des S2OL [so embarassing to those photographed that they are available only upon request] Christmas Break with the Boyfriend...

srah - Friday, 24 January 2003 - 3:28 PM
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Régis suggests skiing uphill

I have been invited to go skiing (or "skying", if you prefer) with the S2OLs next weekend. This sounds like a fun, exciting way to spend a weekend, except for the whole skiing part. I imagine roaring fires, hot tea or chocolate, and perhaps tramping about in the snow a bit, but none of that nasty downhill nonsense, considering I have problems walking downhill or even descending staircases. Up up up for srah, or perhaps over over over, but certainly not down down down. Even better, perhaps, would be staying still still still, considering that I am unathletic and maladroite...

srah - Friday, 24 January 2003 - 1:42 PM
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My contribution: marcher

The Scrabble tournament didn't end up being quite as I'd imagined. Renata, Jennifer, Johanna (the new German assistant) and I were divided up and each put on different teams, thankfully. I say "thankfully" because it would have been very embarassing when we lost. Those kids were doués! They were regular little Scrabble champions, full of strategy and obscure two-letter words, and all around 10 to 12 years old. I think the assistants provided amusement rather than any actual help. My teammates were full of questions about England (it is a peculiarity of French elementary school children not to understand the...

srah - Friday, 24 January 2003 - 1:32 PM
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Scenes from the Thursday edition of Taboo

"It's in the toilet." The hôtellerie students and their assistant are rather surprised, as up to that point, all of the words they've been trying to guess were related to food preparation and service. "Paper? Toilet paper?" comes one guess. She is encouraged to guess something else, and luckily comes up with the answer, water, before anyone starts getting rude. What a creative way of expressing the word, when forbidden to use "drink" or "glass". I appreciate a good dose of imagination and creativity in a student....

srah - Friday, 24 January 2003 - 4:06 AM


There are only two customers tonight, so the cybercafé employees are forcing me to sing along with the music. Brassens, I refuse. Cake, I will add my little "Perhaps perhaps perhaps" just to please them. Woo woo! Thursday night karaoke party at the cybercafé!...

srah - Thursday, 23 January 2003 - 5:24 PM
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Klaxonner is a good word

Les assistants linguistiques de Vichy-Cusset have been invited to a Scrabble tournament. It is for a Scrabble club made up of young (not sure how young - but no older than middle school, I think) people, and apparently they were looking for competitors who don't have adult vocabularies. We are going to whup some nine-year-old heinie....

srah - Thursday, 23 January 2003 - 2:42 PM
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Secrecy and intrigue at Valéry Larbaud

I am having a super-secret torrid affair. It is so super-secret that I didn't even realize I was having it until Renata told me. Apparently one of Andrés' classes today (the THOTs, I believe) told him that they knew about him and me. Renata and I assumed this meant romantic entanglement, but I suppose since I'm getting this third- or fourth-hand, I could be missing something. Maybe we're about to get fired instead....

srah - Tuesday, 21 January 2003 - 1:44 PM

Srahsildur's Bane

One of the main problems in my job as an assistant is side conversations going on in French. I have to try to convince the students to stop what they're talking about and to join the rest of us, trying not to lose more students while I'm doing that. What makes it even more difficult is when I want to join in......

srah - Tuesday, 21 January 2003 - 6:10 AM

Poule furieuse

I am such an idiot. I didn't have class until 11:00, but at 10:00, I went looking for Agnès to show her an article I'd found, about schools implementing retinal eye scanning in school cafeterias to identify students and make sure no one was eating anything against their dietary regulations. I showed up and she got half of the class together to go off with me. "No, I don't have them until 11," I explained, "I just came to show you this article." She looked puzzled. "No, you have them now." Somehow I had convinced myself that I had class...

srah - Tuesday, 21 January 2003 - 4:35 AM

I am bored

And I don't have class for another two hours. My students are here in the library with me, but they're being very studious and working, so I don't want to bother them and I wouldn't have anything to say to them even if I did, other than. I may have to start reading the dictionary or - even worse - surfing Encarta and digging up super-neato facts to share with you. Mwah ha! If you want the torture to end, you should write to my school and demand some answers on why there is no Internet. If I've understood correctly,...

srah - Tuesday, 21 January 2003 - 3:41 AM
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No - gollum gollum - I am not bitter

Why does Sarah come to school over three hours before she actually has to teach anything? And more importantly, why didn't she bring anything to read? And even more importantly, why can't she spend all of this free time surfing the Internet? I have heard a nasty rumor that the administration (including the dastardly Señor Tails) still have Internet access, while the rest of us suffer without. We must try not to believe such rumors, for to do so might make flames shoot out of our ears and singe the nice students sitting nearby. Mustn't hurt nice studentses. But if...

srah - Tuesday, 21 January 2003 - 3:06 AM
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Podriá 'nar gitar las vachas ame vosautres?

Traditional folk songs have stupid lyrics. Are we agreed? No one will argue that Camptown ladies singing this song (doo dah, doo dah) or hats with feathers in them called Macaroni (is the hat or the feather Macaroni?) are lyrical masterpieces, I hope, but I don't think we really think about that while we're singing them. I've checked out from the library one of the volumes of Canteloube's Chants d'Auvergne, orchestral arrangements of Auvergnat folk songs, sung in the original Auvergnat language by Kiri Te Kanawa. You may know "Baïléro", the most famous of the songs, which is very beautiful...

srah - Monday, 20 January 2003 - 5:19 PM
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In the course of a game of Taboo

"It's a bird..." "Chicken!" "Duck!" "Pheasant!" "Turkey!" "Cream!" "Non, mais oh! Cream, c'est pas un bird!" Never mind, it was funny to me. Funny enough that I kept thinking about it for the rest of class and giggling to myself. It's funny how I will miss some of my students when the year is over. And yet others, not at all, as the game got a bit too competitive at around this point. So srah stopped giving points and started giving bunnies and ducks and boats and teepees, in the hopes that they would stop berating their teammates and turn...

srah - Monday, 20 January 2003 - 12:34 PM

'I shall call you... Mini-me'

Is it excessively bad to have still not learned some of my students' names... and to have forgotten some of the ones I did know?...

srah - Monday, 20 January 2003 - 11:38 AM

Parlez-vous extra-terrestre?

I am excessively fascinated with the proximity of the Raelians (or the proximity of their origins, anyway). Now I find myself wondering if the people I see every day are secretly members of the cult. According to their website, the cult gained popularity quickly in French-speaking countries, which makes complete sense to me. If aliens landed in the US and emerged from their spaceship speaking English, we would think nothing of it. It would be completely natural for them to start speaking English and if they didn't, we might tell them to pack up and get back into outer space...

srah - Saturday, 18 January 2003 - 2:52 PM

Three reasons to stay home

1) It's sales season in Vichy and the streets and stores are packed, which makes me claustrophobic. 2) The price of a demi-baguette has gone up from 30 to 32 cents, making things very uneven and ensuring that I get a handful of nasty little copper coins instead of an even 10 or 20 cent piece. 3) There is a clown playing the trumpet in the Rue de l'Hôtel des Postes. As I walked by, he was attacked by a dog, but unfortunately it was part of his act....

srah - Saturday, 18 January 2003 - 11:46 AM
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I hate you all

Why did no one tell me about the Raelians? "One December morning in 1973, journalist Claude Vorilhon was on his way to work in the French provincial town of Clermont-Ferrand. But - according to a book written by Mr Vorilhon, who is now known as Rael - instead of going to the office, on an impulse, he drove to a nearby volcano. There, he says, he was contacted by an extra-terrestrial being who emerged from a flying saucer and told him - in fluent French - that humans were created in laboratories by people from another planet." These are important...

srah - Saturday, 18 January 2003 - 10:41 AM

Srah ventures into the cybercafé

There is no heat in this room. Fingers cold. At least it isn't the Den of Adolescents, though. The latest barrage of posts is mixed in with already-published ones. They begin with these two in December, and the rest of them start here....

srah - Saturday, 18 January 2003 - 9:23 AM
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Report on Ghost World

I would have made the film differently, but it didn't seem to completely disgust the internes, so I guess I can breathe easier. We shall talk to them about it on Monday....

srah - Saturday, 18 January 2003 - 4:05 AM
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You say hello and I say hello

I don't pay a lot of attention to it, but I think I hardly ever say "hello" in the US. More likely "hi" or "what's up" or "hey there". Here, on the other hand, I walk down the hall, barraged with "hello"s and respond in kind. When the kids come into the classroom, they say "hello". When they leave, they say "goodbye". I parrot back ten or twenty times, which has started to annoy me, so I try to toss in a few "bye"s or "have a good afternoon"s to change things up. Earlier this week, I said, "Have a...

srah - Friday, 17 January 2003 - 11:56 AM

Club Ciné put to the test

Tonight is the first night of Ghost World, the January film for the Club Cinéma. As it is an American film shown VOSTF, Agnès and I managed to convince the Vie Scolaire that it would be mighty educational to bring the kiddies. Thusly the 37 or so students who board on Friday nights will be going to the movies tonight, to see a movie that Agnès and I recommended despite having never seen it. I am terribly frightened that they will hate the movie and that it will turn them off of subtitled films for the rest of their lives....

srah - Friday, 17 January 2003 - 8:43 AM
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Halloween, they know. Martin Luther King Day? Not so much.

An impressive number of my students know who Martin Luther King, Jr. was, and some recognized him enough to say "I have a dream" when they saw his name on the board. There were still quite a few classes, however, where I got blank stares or far-out guesses. My favorite was "Didn't he used to be Prime Minister of England?"...

srah - Thursday, 16 January 2003 - 10:56 AM

"Can I have a kitten?"

"But how am I supposed to teach English As A Foreign Language if I don't speak English as As A Foreign Language? Can't I just take Foreign As An English Language?" - Smack the Pony...

srah - Tuesday, 14 January 2003 - 5:43 PM
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... and raving

And while we're at it, how about you? (Once again, not you, dear reader). You used to be so nice and well-behaved and participatory and now I don't want to throw you out of class because I'd rather keep you within slapping range. I hope it's just a bad day....

srah - Monday, 13 January 2003 - 1:13 PM


And as long as I'm being mad, I will take some out on you. Yes, you. Not you, the reader, but you the person I'm thinking of, who I don't care to identify at this point. What are you doing there, anyway? What purpose do you serve, sitting there and doing nothing? Am I just there to make life twice as easy for you? If I get stuck with so many more of them than I'm supposed to have, the least you could do is step in and help out when obviously needed....

srah - Monday, 13 January 2003 - 12:18 PM

The last straw

This is it. This is forking it. My mother sent me two packages on the same day. One, I received the week before Christmas. The other still has not arrived. Every time I call FORKING EXTAND, I have to pay 1.35€ for the call (even if I get the recorded message "All lines are busy - please call again later") plus 0.35€ per minute, with an average pre-operator-answering wait of two minutes. On my last bill, I was charged over 12€ for these calls. They told me my package would come on the 24th. I was gone, so I called...

srah - Monday, 13 January 2003 - 12:15 PM


I can't find anything enticing enough to lure me out into the cold, so here I am, rotting in my apartment, snacking, and reading. I have now finished The Fellowship of the Ring and A Big Boy Did It And Ran Away and have already done the dishes and written a letter to Christopher Brookmyre that I will never send. I am now debating between starting The Two Towers or going stir-crazy and losing my mind. Insanity imminent....

srah - Sunday, 12 January 2003 - 8:49 AM
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Two months and whining

Today is the 12th of January! Do you know what that means, children? Mouse over for the joyous, happy response!...

srah - Sunday, 12 January 2003 - 7:10 AM
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In case you haven't noticed, I like quotes

Especially ones about diaries that I can apply to my blog. Before break, I read an English translation (yes, I am lazy) of A.O. Barnabooth: His Diary, one of the best-known works of Valéry Larbaud, namesake of my lycée, vichyssois author but perhaps best known as the translator-to-French of many a famous 20th-century anglophone writer - most notably James Joyce and William Faulkner. The book is the diary of an invented character named Archibald Barnabooth, a South American millionaire who has inherited his money from his father and wanders around Europe trying to figure out what one should do with...

srah - Saturday, 11 January 2003 - 8:05 AM
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I'm afraid to venture out into the cold and snow and ice. I think I'll just hole up here until spring comes. I have tea a-plenty, so I'll manage to survive. Speaking of cold, snow and ice, whoever designed Vichy was clearly smoking crack. Here we are with a town full of precisely (I counted) one hillion jillion old people. Instead of having concrete sidewalks, which would give some traction, the whole town is covered in a slick, smooth tile. The ice is better to walk on than the salted parts, because it gives you traction, whereas the tile is...

srah - Saturday, 11 January 2003 - 4:45 AM
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Thus enter two new characters in srah's blog...

"I don't want money. It is only people who pay their bills who want that and I never pay mine." - Oscar Wilde I would pay my rent, if my landlady would ever show up! She told Jennifer to pay her rent to my new next-door neighbors and when she did, they came to the door in tighty-whities, so I am not paying them myself unless Mme Messana gives me explicit instructions to do so....

srah - Saturday, 11 January 2003 - 4:35 AM

Internet tantrum

I want the Internet fixed so that I can spend all day long at school and do absolutely nothing productive but read a lot of blogs. I want my Pato to stay here with me and be my pet-slash-gigolo and I will support him on my enormous assistant's salary. I want warm weather and no more snow or ice, or I at least want Vichy to plow the streets and ice the sidewalks. I want my stupid package to be delivered - yes, the one that was supposed to come before Christmas. I want to be suddenly inspired with ideas...

srah - Wednesday, 8 January 2003 - 1:09 PM

Back to usual

As usual, I went to school today only to find that Agnès had left me a voice mail that I hadn't checked, telling me the 1ASMSs have a test and I didn't have to come to school at all....

srah - Tuesday, 7 January 2003 - 8:23 AM

Demons are dancing in my head

KILL! KILL! KILL!, they scream. No, Internet has still not been fixed at the lycée....

srah - Monday, 6 January 2003 - 8:25 AM
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'I came into this country illegally. My back is wet.'

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

srah - Monday, 23 December 2002 - 9:07 AM
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Once I am in the cybercafé, I never want to leave....

srah - Sunday, 22 December 2002 - 2:19 PM

Victoire allieroise

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

srah - Sunday, 22 December 2002 - 10:35 AM
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A few seconds later

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

srah - Friday, 20 December 2002 - 10:28 AM

Weird things are underfoot at the cybercafé

I have been led into the inner sanctum of the cybercafé, past the gangs of screaming teenaged boys and their shooting, mooing computer games, to a large, spacious room with ambient music, soft colors, art on the walls, windows, only two computers, and a few tables and chairs. This is very odd. Very odd indeed. I think I may be The Chosen One, although Chosen for what, I'm not sure. And yet no one has offered me tea, which I would have accepted this time....

srah - Friday, 20 December 2002 - 10:27 AM

Repas de Noël

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

srah - Thursday, 19 December 2002 - 7:57 AM
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The fireman cometh

The doorbell rings at Villa Montcalm. Srah, living on the rez-de-chaussée and thus being the only one who can hear the doorbell, goes to answer it. "Good evening," says the man at the door, wearing a fireman's coat, "The firemen have come to present their calendar." Srah wonders what her reaction should be. "Okay," she replies dumbly. "Are your parents at home?" asks the fireman. Srah wonders how much younger her pigtails make her look. "This is an apartment building," she explains, realizing even as she says it that it explains nothing and has nothing to do with anything and...

srah - Wednesday, 18 December 2002 - 1:39 PM
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I've decided I don't get nearly enough search requests from people who want to learn about English assistants, or what it's like to be an English assistant, or assistante d'anglais, as I like to call myself. Neither are there searches for my masculine counterparts, the assistants d'anglais. This is the time of year when young men and women's fancy turns to applying for jobs as English assistants in France, so I have decided to pad this blog-post with excessive mentions of English assistants, English language teaching assistants in France, assistants d'anglais and the like, in an attempt to get Google...

srah - Wednesday, 18 December 2002 - 10:22 AM

During a brief respite from the vomit...

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

srah - Tuesday, 17 December 2002 - 2:00 PM
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The shutterbug strikes again

More Vichy and the environs Thiers Trip to the Puy-de-Dôme Les Sables d'Olonne...

srah - Monday, 16 December 2002 - 4:57 AM
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Moi vendre céréales un jour

I introduced myself to my classes at the beginning of the year and shared some information about Michigan. Of the people and things from Michigan, the most impressive - with more murmurs of approval than Madonna, Eminem, or the Ford Motor Company - was Kellogg's. I have decided I am going to be the French liaison for Kellogg's, with one goal in mind: to be able to get my hands on Extra in the US. We don't have it yet, do we? It would have to be marketed as a snack rather than as a cereal, but that's how I...

srah - Friday, 13 December 2002 - 4:26 PM
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Grossly underqualified

Beginning next semester, I am going to be preparing the S2OLs for their oral exams at the end of the year, two by two. They will have to do what they would do for the exam and I will grade them and tell them what they have to work on. I am concerned that I will be biased in my grading for a few reasons: 1) I am American. I don't know how well I'll be able to pay attention to grammar mistakes because as an Anglophone, when I hear English, my goal is comprehension and not listening for correct...

srah - Friday, 13 December 2002 - 3:27 AM

Teacher extraordinaire

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

srah - Thursday, 12 December 2002 - 10:47 AM

Pourquoi ça, guv'nor?

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

srah - Thursday, 12 December 2002 - 6:54 AM
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I can't get no satisfaction

Today was a day of halves and not-quites. I had my visite medicale in Clermont-Ferrand, beginning with the lung x-ray at 2pm. I left Vichy at 12:00 because the next train was at 1:07 and wouldn't get me to Clermont until 1:40. I was concerned that I would not have enough time to find the office if I arrived with twenty minutes to spare. So I arrived at 12:40 instead, looked at my convocation to see the address of the radiography center, and discovered that my appointment was at 2:30, so I was wandering around Clermont for two hours for...

srah - Wednesday, 11 December 2002 - 3:21 PM
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"Oh no, that should be restricted. There are some wackos out there."

I spent yesterday bullying all of my classes about going to see Bowling for Columbine. "We have too much homework," said the S1OLs. "Is there a bowling alley in Vichy?" asked the S2OLs. "If we go, will you come with us?" and "Are you taking us to the movies?" and "Are you going to pay?" asked the THOTs. I, myself, had not yet resolved whether I wanted to see it again this week or whether, like Il faut sauver le soldat Ryan, it was too stressful to see ever again. I decided to ask Renata and Jennifer if they wanted...

srah - Tuesday, 10 December 2002 - 6:46 AM
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'Tis the season to be apathetic

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

srah - Tuesday, 10 December 2002 - 4:05 AM

Meeting smile after smile

Thankfully, my students were interested in talking about Christmas, right down to leaving carrot sticks for the reindeer and whether or not they had bought a present for their boyfriend's mother. Though it's been said many times, many ways, Merry Christmas to you, 1ASMS....

srah - Monday, 9 December 2002 - 6:02 PM

Note to self

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

srah - Monday, 9 December 2002 - 10:35 AM
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Ça craint

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

srah - Monday, 9 December 2002 - 10:28 AM
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Today in cyberland

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

srah - Sunday, 8 December 2002 - 9:47 AM
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French person in box: mime?

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

srah - Sunday, 8 December 2002 - 7:54 AM
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Mneagh ouchie

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

srah - Sunday, 8 December 2002 - 7:29 AM
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Went up to school this afternoon for my weekly Spanish class, only to find that my classmates were having their conseil de classe and their class was cancelled. Walked home in the cold and believe I caught one. Chicken noodle soup and tea for dinner ce soir, then an early bedtime. We can fight this, as we have nothing better to do....

srah - Friday, 6 December 2002 - 12:57 PM
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C'est éxageré

Señor Tails ne sait toujours pas when the Internet will be fixed, even as we approach the one-month mark. If this hadn't been ridiculous for several weeks now, I would make the observation that this is starting to get ridiculous. Perhaps we will have it as a cadeau de Noël when we get back from the break. Fat lot of good that does me when I can't find the lyrics to Christmas carols or a recipe for (urp!) eggnog....

srah - Thursday, 5 December 2002 - 11:02 AM
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Contented assistante

Here we are at the end of my week, Thursday afternoon. It has been a marked improvement over last week. Part of this is that the students are - for some mysterious reason - behaving better than they did last week. They have been paying better attention and there has been less in common than usual between my stories about my students and Jennifer's about her eight-year-olds. But I think another important part is that I have realized that I need to chill out and communicate with the other teachers. Sometimes if a student doesn't want to learn, I need...

srah - Thursday, 5 December 2002 - 10:54 AM

srah: published journalist

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

srah - Thursday, 5 December 2002 - 10:39 AM
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Waiter, how do you say assortiment de fromages in English?

I went to lunch at the resto gastronomique today with Christine, the prof d'allemand who is also new this year. We both have the THOTs in class (I have all of them, she only has the three who have chosen German) and wanted to see them in action. We didn't know each other well previously, but we had a good time talking about the world and the school. We also had a good time bothering Damien, our waiter and student, by asking him questions in English and German and asking him if he knew the German and English translations for...

srah - Thursday, 5 December 2002 - 10:31 AM
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Une place pour 'Arry Potère, SVP

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

srah - Tuesday, 3 December 2002 - 4:12 PM
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Whofore art thou?

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

srah - Tuesday, 3 December 2002 - 1:51 PM

She did not make me drink from her special cup

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

srah - Tuesday, 3 December 2002 - 1:20 PM

Les voisins chaleureux

You may recall the confusion some months ago when, in filling out my lease, my landlady wrote down the wrong address - 35 rather than 30. I gave the address to various important people and organizations, including the Office of International Migration and my bank, then had to go through a lot of hassle to fix it. I am still getting mail at #35 and they are very nicely collecting it for me. Very. I went to them, apologizing for the ridiculous situation that was producing itself, and they said that it was no problem. I got a call this...

srah - Tuesday, 3 December 2002 - 2:41 AM

Step right up!

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

srah - Monday, 2 December 2002 - 4:41 AM
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¿Hay alguien aquí que hable inglés?

It came up in conversation that I might like to sit in on a class while I am here, as I have nothing better to do. I chose Spanish and sat in on Friday. I learned a lot and I think it would be good for me, but it was frustrating because a) They constructed sentences much better than I can and b) They were interested and participating. There is nothing more frustrating than working with students for hours and getting nothing out of them, then seeing them working well and happily in another subject. This is the lot of...

srah - Sunday, 1 December 2002 - 2:20 AM
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The US hasn't cornered the market on tackiness

Strangely enough, the vichyssois seem to have the same Christmas-decoration philosophy as Americans. Despite the fact that they don't know when Thanksgiving is, they started with the Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving, just the way we do. Spooky. Perhaps it's a coincidence or their tradition is to wait eight days after the Beaujolais Nouveau. Who knows? De toutes les façons, Vichy is now full of light structures in the shapes of Père Noël and other tasteful things. The Place de la Poste, just down the street, has been desecrated decorated with some lovely, natural-looking silver-white potted Christmas trees with...

srah - Saturday, 30 November 2002 - 4:20 AM

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

Fire drill again! We lost the Internet last time we had one. I had hoped that it would come back after this one. My hopes were even encouraged by seeing Señor Tails in the CDI when we came inside. Perhaps he was reconfiguring things! Perhaps everything was finally fixed! Nope. "Do you know when we'll have Internet again?" I asked him, my eyes full of innocent wonder and nonchalance, as though it wasn't really important and I was just wondering. This is the way you have to approach these Technology Gurus, or whatever his job title is. You mustn't be...

srah - Friday, 29 November 2002 - 9:54 AM
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Our Thanksgiving à la française was surprisingly un-français this year. If it weren't for the dominant language at the table being French, one could have forgotten which side of the Atlantic we were on. We managed to scrounge up enough native American foods to enjoy ourselves and to show our friends from Germany, Colombia and England that la bouffe américaine did not consist completely of deplorable sludge like Macdo. Cranberries were an especially difficult part of the meal to locate. The French are not particularly familiar with the fruit. When I told a class of Hôtellerie students about Thanksgiving, someone...

srah - Thursday, 28 November 2002 - 7:02 PM

Monsoon season in Vichy

I got the afternoon off due to Veronique's absence, so I've popped into the cybercafé. Almost wrote "pooped into the cybercafé", which would be almost as funny as when one of my students said that the most popular Thanksgiving dessert was pooping pie. I'm feeling better than I was this morning and am having some unpriced milky tea which will probably turn out to be almost as expensive as this overpriced Internet access. Soon I will be off to Renata's to celebrate Thanksgiving à la française with all of the Vichy assistants, if I can convince myself to go back...

srah - Thursday, 28 November 2002 - 9:52 AM
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Ca manque quelque chose

This school is spotless and beautiful - full of flowing water and glass and natural light. What it is lacking, however, is places to hide. I had a bit of a breakdown today. I usually want to cry around 10am on Thursdays, but I suck it up and continue with the day, which usually gets better from there. Usually. Handily, no one told me that Veronique is absent today until I got to the classroom door. There, one of my students told me. When my students tell me that the teacher is "missing", I don't know whether to believe them...

srah - Thursday, 28 November 2002 - 6:26 AM

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

So I am spending my "Planning Period" (a time when the teachers can come and consult me... cleverly scheduled during a time when all of the English teachers are in class) surfing the Encarta encyclopedia instead. Here are the fascinating things I've found: I already knew about Iggy Pop, but apparently 1976 Nobel Prize (Physics) winner Samuel Chao Chung Ting was also born in Ann Arbor. There is a place in Provence (Vaucluse, to be specific) called Le plateau d'Albion, where the French had underground missile silos, but apparently don't anymore. I'm a little disappointed. The 1990 population of Vichy...

srah - Tuesday, 26 November 2002 - 3:36 AM
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I Know What You Did Several Summers Ago

The teachers have access to two photocopiers and one risograph. Whatever a risograph is. It seems like a photocopier to me, except that you can only copy sheets of paper and not books and things. We are only supposed to use the risograph when we need 30+ copies. One of the photocopiers is en panne at the moment, so we're down to one. With all the humidity in the air, it is impossible to get more than 5 copies at a time from this one, because the paper sticks together and jams. So into the photocopier I go, while everyone...

srah - Tuesday, 26 November 2002 - 3:19 AM


I am shocked and confused when I spend mental energy battling against cultural stereotypes and they turn out to be true. Thus I raconte you the story of Siobhan. I am so excited to actually know someone named Siobhan. Valéry Larbaud's 7-hour-a-week Irish assistant is lucky enough to have this name that not even Anglophones can pronounce. The French have no idea what to do with it. Add to this that she has an Mc last name, and she is a complete enigma to anyone who is unfortunate enough to have to try to spell her name. It was her...

srah - Tuesday, 26 November 2002 - 3:10 AM
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Into the lions' den

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

srah - Monday, 25 November 2002 - 10:16 AM
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The Joys of Teaching

Yes, I write all over the board. But if you were paying attention when I wrote the words, you would know which one was the answer to which question. And since I've already asked this question a million times in the past week, what the hell are you thankful for?...

srah - Monday, 25 November 2002 - 4:29 AM
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Up in smoke

Señor Tails says that something exploded and that's why we don't have Internet. This was after I said "What happened - did something explode?" He seemed to think this was a good explanation and said that whatever it was that exploded is out being fixed and he doesn't know when it will be back. How can you not know? Do they not even give you an estimated time when they can have it fixed? Renata, Jennifer and I decided yesterday that many of the computer-related slowness in France comes from people being allowed to smoke in public workplaces. Unless you...

srah - Monday, 25 November 2002 - 2:54 AM
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Some lummy yucky bork near Bumblefuck-sur-blé

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

srah - Monday, 25 November 2002 - 2:42 AM

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

I have a serious problem with people who are not named Gustav. When I was in Grenoble, there was a Swede in my class named Gustav, who was very pale and blue-eyed with white-blond hair. When I met this year's French assistant at Albion, I kept wanting to call him Gustav as well, because in addition to his fair hair and blue eyes, his name is Gauthier. Gustav, Gauthier. Close enough. Now I have a student with a Scandinavian last name and pale hair and blue eyes, but who insists on being called Guillaume rather than Gustav. What is with...

srah - Saturday, 23 November 2002 - 7:23 AM
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I am scrounging up pairs of eyes for the S2OLs to practice their eye exams on, because I am the nicest assistant ever and because I desperately want them to like me. How sad. I feel like a bodysnatcher or something. Hee hee. I swear, all of these eyes are connected to living, breathing human beings and will not be used for any torturous purposes, but only to read far-off eye charts....

srah - Thursday, 21 November 2002 - 6:47 AM

You know it's Thursday when...

... you have to hold two classes hostage after the bell in order to get everyone to participate in the "What I'm Thankful For" discussion. I think everyone hates me. At the moment, I couldn't care less....

srah - Thursday, 21 November 2002 - 6:45 AM

Calling people with eyes!

If you are in the Vichy area on a Thursday afternoon, the S2OLs would like you to be a cobaye, bay-bay, for their vision examinations. They are sick of practicing on each other. I have now invited everyone I know to come and have their eyes checked out, so I am going to start branching out to people I don't know. "Holding the door for you was really no problem, ma'am. But you know how you can repay me? Go and have a delicious meal at Valéry Larbaud, followed by an enjoyable eye exam."...

srah - Wednesday, 20 November 2002 - 10:00 AM
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On vous attend, Señor Tails

In the week that the Internet's been dead, I've written 13 pages of nonsense in Word. What a burden it will be to read it all when I get it up. What a ridiculous amount of time it is taking to get it back up. Is there anything I can do to speed up the process? Did the server explode and we're building a new one by hand? From Legos and chewing gum? If I had a disk, I would take my blog-posts to the cybercafé. Unfortunately, I am not clever like that....

srah - Tuesday, 19 November 2002 - 6:10 AM
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Extremely confusing explanation of class levels

Terminale BEPThe last year of the BEP, a two-year specialized technical degree which allows students to enter the workforce without continuing their studies until the BAC.Last year, they were in Seconde BEP (and before Seconde, they were in middle school).Next year, they can go to work or continue with the Première Adaptation BAC Pro.Première Adaptation BAC ProA class of "adaptation" students who have the BEP and who then decided to continue their studies in order to get the Professional BAC. This is separate from the more general students who have come directly from middle school and have not done the...

srah - Tuesday, 19 November 2002 - 5:59 AM
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srah's schedule

MONDAYTUESDAY WEDNESDAYTHURSDAYFRIDAY09-10TV2Terminale BEP VentesPlanning PeriodTH2Terminale BEP Hôtellerie10-111ASMS groupe 1Première Adaptation Sciences Medico-SocialesS1HOT1ère année BTS Hôtellerie11-12S1OL1ère année BTS Optique1ASMS groupe 2Première Adaptation Sciences Medico-SocialesTH1Terminale BEP Hôtellerie12-1313-1414-15S2OL2ième année BTS Optique1AHOT groupe 1Première Adaptation Hôtellerie15-16THOTTerminale BAC Hôtellerie1AHOT groupe 2Première Adaptation Hôtellerie Well, that was a terrific waste of an hour and a half. How sad that I have nothing better to do....

srah - Tuesday, 19 November 2002 - 5:49 AM
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I accidentally came to school today. I forgot the 1ASMS have a test, so I have no classes today. This wouldn't be so bad if a) the Internet worked, so I had something to do while I was here or b) I hadn't walked to school in the freezing freezing Michiganesque cold. They are doing work on my bus stop, so I had to walk to the next one and missed the bus in the process. And to think I considered wearing a skirt today. Brrrrrrrrrrrr....

srah - Tuesday, 19 November 2002 - 4:16 AM
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I would just like to point out that ça fait une semaine aujourd'hui qu'on est sans Internet. Ahem. Some of us need the Internet to do our job and are quickly running out of materials. Ahem. This is not exactly a third world country here; it seems to me we should be able to get back online faster than this....

srah - Tuesday, 19 November 2002 - 2:52 AM
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The Pilgrims? Aren't they like monks?

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

srah - Monday, 18 November 2002 - 2:25 PM
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Soupe aux crevettes, cocktail aux crevettes, crevettes Creole?

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

srah - Monday, 18 November 2002 - 11:42 AM
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Mariah Carey is stalking me

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

srah - Sunday, 17 November 2002 - 8:46 AM
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Wouldn't you like to be beside the seaside?

Antoine, his sister Lucie, and I went on a day-trip today to Les Sables d'Olonne, a seaside town two hours from Le May. It was especially nice because it was a nice day in the off-season. We had lovely weather, but we didn't have the masses of tourists and sunbathers that Les Sables gets in the summer. We saw Le Puits de l'Enfer first, or Hell's Well. I'm going to start exclaiming that, because it sounds just as ridiculous as "hell's bells". It's an area with steep rocks and crevasses where the waves crash violently and fall with big splashes...

srah - Saturday, 16 November 2002 - 12:00 PM
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Manic-depressive year

In case you hadn't noticed yet, I complain a lot. I'm sure I had many complaints in Grenoble, too, but I didn't have anywhere to write them down so I remember it as a mostly positive experience. And despite my complaints I am happy here, when I'm not losing my mind....

srah - Thursday, 14 November 2002 - 1:00 PM

Everything is lonely for you, you whiner

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

srah - Thursday, 14 November 2002 - 12:54 PM
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His name means "tails" in Spanish

I tracked down the system administrator and asked if he knew when the Internet would work again. He didn't know. "Do you think it will be ready by Monday?" I asked. "No - it will be at least a week," he replied. I exited his office depressed and dejected. "Don't listen to him," said a prof standing outside the door, "he's a big liar." Now I'm confused. Yes? No? What the hell is going on? Stop playing with foreigners like that!...

srah - Thursday, 14 November 2002 - 7:56 AM
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Encore jeudi

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

srah - Thursday, 14 November 2002 - 6:30 AM

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

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

srah - Thursday, 14 November 2002 - 6:20 AM
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Jean Reno as romantic hero?

I went to the movies last night with Renata, Jennifer, Rachel and some of Rachel's French friends from the foyer. Ooh, alliteration. We went to see Décalage horaire with Jean Reno and Juliette Binoche which, as I predicted, was a rather confused Franco-American mess, having been billed as the first French American-style romantic comedy. It didn't seem to know if it was French or American, and neither did Jean Reno's character, who kept throwing random English phrases into his dialogue and making the anglophones titter. All in all, it was rather amusing but nothing to write home about. Or write...

srah - Thursday, 14 November 2002 - 1:58 AM
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Sorry, I was not raised on cheese!

Today I had lunch with Agnès, Marie-Claude (a math teacher at Valéry Larbaud and friend of Agnès') and Claudine, a friend of theirs who teaches at Presles. This would not have been blog-worthy, except that we ate at the "resto gastro", the fancy restaurant in the school where Valéry Larbaud's hôtellerie sections get to practice their art. Today it was the Première Adaps' turn to serve, so I was surrounded by the class I met last Thursday, looking serious and professional. How scary. It was an incredibly enormous meal of: gnocchi à la Parisienne truite meunière pommes à l'anglaise et...

srah - Wednesday, 13 November 2002 - 2:09 PM
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How many landladies does it take to change my oven?

Last night I dreamt that I was at an American football game in Vichy and I called my landlady on my cell phone. The guy in front of me turned around and said, "How do you know Mme Messana?" "She's my landlady," I replied. "Oh. She's my mother," he said. His name was Olivier and we adopted him into our group of English Assistants even though he was French, in his 30s, and prematurely balding. Alex called me in the morning and we were talking when the doorbell rang. It was earlier than expected but I was waiting for a...

srah - Wednesday, 13 November 2002 - 5:03 AM
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A blog-post in cartoon form

srah - Tuesday, 12 November 2002 - 11:47 AM
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I wish you were my student

During all of the alarm-hullaballoo, j'ai revu the guy who helped me find my missing class last Thursday. It was my last class of the day, the last class in all of my schedule that I hadn't seen. I hadn't asked Véronique for the room number, but most English classes are in the language area of the school. I wandered up and down the halls, but I couldn't find her. So I went to the acceuil and asked them if they knew where Véronique was at this time. They sent me to Mme Laval, the proviseur adjoint, who looked up...

srah - Tuesday, 12 November 2002 - 11:26 AM


Onomatopoeia, here we come. I was sitting at my computer post in the CDI when my computer - and all those around it - suddenly went *glub*. For some reason the lights in the CDI had been off all afternoon anyway, so we didn't realize that all of the power had gone out. We all looked at each other, confused and accusatory, then looked out the window and noticed what had happened. Then the delightful sound started. *MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEH*, went the alarm. Luckily it was a bit muffled from inside the CDI, but as we sat at our computers, waiting for...

srah - Tuesday, 12 November 2002 - 11:17 AM
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Binge and purge

I have been something of a bulimic sleeper of late. Ew. I just pictured that and feel the need to clarify that I have not been forcing myself to throw up in my sleep. Ew. Anyway, my point was that I have been binging and purging on sleep - getting lots one night and little the next. For example, I went to Renata's Sunday night to watch Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves dubbed into French on TV, then we talked and giggled until after midnight. Then when I got home, my family called, so I talked to them until after...

srah - Tuesday, 12 November 2002 - 9:04 AM

Plus j'apprends, plus ça m'étonne

The more I hang around the teachers here and listen to them talk and complain about the students, the more I wonder what my high school teachers had to say about me. Probably not much - I don't think I was very remarkable or memorable. At one point during high school I went back to Scarlett with Robin to visit teachers and my 8th grade US History teacher asked Robin who her friend was....

srah - Tuesday, 12 November 2002 - 8:51 AM
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Quote for Tuesday

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

srah - Monday, 11 November 2002 - 6:06 PM
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Mothers, shield your children! Old people, run for cover!

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

srah - Sunday, 10 November 2002 - 2:26 PM

Queen of Suspense

Thinking I was very clever to outwit my six-book check-out limit at the library, I checked out a book that was actually three novels in one volume, all by Mary Higgins Clark. How sneaky you are, srah. All of that reading and it only counts for one of your six. It will bring you hours and days of enjoyment. Of course, it would have helped if you knew anything about Mary Higgins Clark before, because it turned out to be hours and days of blah and screaming. While my solitude is slowly leading to insanity and making me talk to...

srah - Sunday, 10 November 2002 - 7:42 AM
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Yup, that's about it

Googlism for Vichy, France: vichy, france is bad enough vichy, france is that it The other day, one of the conversation-starting questions I used on my class was "Would you like to live in Paris one day? Why or why not?" That worked so well, I had them list the advantages and disadvantages of Vichy as well. They talked about the parks and the opera and the nightclubs and how it was calmer than Paris and less polluted. The only disadvantage they could come up with for Vichy was that there were so many old people. Nice to know it's...

srah - Friday, 8 November 2002 - 11:52 AM
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And yet more pictures

This should be the last of the bunch for a while... this roll got held up a while with processing problems, but it's number 3 of 5 and therefore fits in somewhere in between the last two installments: More Clermont-Ferrand More Vichy Mon appartement Views from a 25km hike...

srah - Friday, 8 November 2002 - 11:15 AM
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Bienvenue chez Extand

For some reason, when you send a package from the US to Vichy, rather than being delivered by the postal service, it has to go through the package delivery service Extand, which is always a delight. I think they have some kind of surveillance on me so that they can be sure to stop by when I'm not at home. They leave a note saying that they stopped by and giving me a phone number to call to reorganize a delivery. How considerate. The first problem is that the number is not toll-free - in fact, it costs more than...

srah - Friday, 8 November 2002 - 3:40 AM

Open letter to the bus company

Dear Bus Inter, Your buses are scheduled to come once every half-hour. So once the bus is 15 minutes late, we are actually closer to the next bus than to the one that is late. This is bothersome when one is wearing a skirt and boots that aren't made for walking, or when it is cold and/or rainy. Cease and desist thy tardiness, evil bus company! C'est éxagéré, les gars!...

srah - Thursday, 7 November 2002 - 12:21 PM
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Night night says Yoda

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

srah - Thursday, 7 November 2002 - 11:55 AM
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Hello to any of my students that may be visiting. Translate it if you must, and tell me you've been here. Please?...

srah - Thursday, 7 November 2002 - 11:40 AM

What are we having for dinner tonight?

Thought you might know, because I sure don't. Last night I made chili. It was a very odd kind of chili. You know how some things are accumulatively spicy, so they get hotter and hotter as you eat them? My chili did that, then it went downhill. I think the spiciness was in some way related to the heat of the food. Is this scientifically possible? I don't care. I think I'm just typing in order to put off going outside, because I'm afraid it's raining again. Pâtes aux champignons it will be tonight, then. Thank you for your cooperation....

srah - Thursday, 7 November 2002 - 11:35 AM
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I love school

For some reason, the filters here seem to think that writing a novel is cihpargonrop, so I can't see my last post. Speaking of school and the title of my cihpargonrop post, is anyone at this school not named Romain or Aurélie? Anyone? Bueller?...

srah - Thursday, 7 November 2002 - 10:53 AM
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Pas de roman, que des Romains

If I had a computer here to myself, to use when I wasn't at school, I would write a novel this month. I really think I would. It would be fun and time-consuming. It would be very long and very bad, with little or no plot. Unfortunately, I am a big whiner who hasn't written anything on paper in years and who can type for days on end but whose writing hand cramps up after an hour or so. So no novel this month. I guess my adoring fans will have to hope I have a computer and no life...

srah - Thursday, 7 November 2002 - 10:50 AM
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Boys are dumb and srah is happier

What does it take to lift my spirits? A new class of yet-unseen students and "Do you have a boyfriend?" "Do you have a sister?". The same old questions, every time. I am flattered and it makes me giggle....

srah - Thursday, 7 November 2002 - 9:03 AM
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Dommage que ça soit interdite

For the most part, I feel better than I did last night, if only because I have lessons to give to the students. They are learning about American coffee houses today, whether they like it or not. They are doing word searches even though they are 20 years old and it doesn't make them construct their own English sentences. Too bad. I am sleep-deprived. I did have one class this morning that really frustrated me, though, and made the sleep-deprived American consider crying when it was all over (but she had to go to another class, so there was no...

srah - Thursday, 7 November 2002 - 6:44 AM

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

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

srah - Wednesday, 6 November 2002 - 6:42 PM


It's dark. Time to go home, especially since I wasn't technically at work today. I got nothing accomplished, as usual, except for all the fruitless searches, as Peter Gabriel would say. Except I don't think PG was looking for coffee shop vocabulary on the Internet....

srah - Wednesday, 6 November 2002 - 11:40 AM

Ick ick ick ick ick

I have found the lyrics to the Drifters' song Under the Boardwalk online, on a site for teachers of English as a Second Language. My first thought was "how inappropriate". Then I thought further, and my second thought was "ick ick ick". Exactly who were the Drifters trying to attract, with their appealing offers of a love nest that is sandy, has people walking just above, children on a carousel nearby, and - best of all - the scent of hot dogs in the air? I am not seduced....

srah - Wednesday, 6 November 2002 - 10:57 AM
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A cornucopia of treasures to come!

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

srah - Wednesday, 6 November 2002 - 10:48 AM

Am I getting paid for this?

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

srah - Wednesday, 6 November 2002 - 10:26 AM

Home sweet school

There is a children's book called I Think My Teacher Sleeps At School. As for the lycée Valéry Larbaud, they could publish a book called I Think My Assistant Lives at School. I hadn't realized it before, but that is probably why I was going insane with boredom and loneliness. Today, for example, I had class from 9-10, 11-12, 2-3 and 3-4. But I got to school before eight o'clock and stayed until almost six. Why walk home in the rain to my empty apartment when I can sit in the CDI and have access to all of my online...

srah - Monday, 4 November 2002 - 2:13 PM

Pickshers continued

The Allier river The Spas Le Parc des Sources Seeing Becky in Grenoble...

srah - Monday, 4 November 2002 - 11:35 AM
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Next thing you know, I'll be working as an elf...

I was going to blog about this later, but I have also found a 2001 Onion A/V Club interview with David Sedaris. I am ecstatic. I want to go out for coffee with David if he's still in France. Find me, David! I have also just discovered that David and his sister Amy are both on What'sBetter.com, so here comes the long-waited (since this weekend) post: I am turning into David Sedaris. It's not that I can't ask for one of anything, it's that one carrot looks so lonely in the bag. He needs a friend to live with him....

srah - Monday, 4 November 2002 - 11:00 AM
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Eep! Srah on film

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

srah - Monday, 4 November 2002 - 10:32 AM

Des araignées sur le plastron d'mon smoking

Today I did a lesson on smoking for my TV2s and THOTs. It's funny how I can take the exact same text and it will turn out a completely different lesson between the different classes I use it on. The TV2s got into the text (on a Florida amendment to ban smoking in public places) and what every phrase meant, while the THOTs were much more into discussing who smoked and why they had started, and things like that. It seemed to work pretty well in both classes and made them talk, but there's really no predicting what will interest...

srah - Monday, 4 November 2002 - 10:30 AM

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

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

srah - Sunday, 3 November 2002 - 12:09 PM

The language nerd's adventures in Auvergnat

I'm not quite sure what my goal was in checking out this Pocket Auvergnat phrasebook, but it dos have some interesting information on the region. For example, Mentre tres annadas terriblas, la "Bèstia" devoriguèt dròlles e dròllas dins lo caire de Saug means, for all you Pacte des loups fans, "For three terrible years, the Gévaudan Beast devoured boys and girls in the area of Saugue." I have also learned that lai a mai de vint vialas d'aigas en Auvèrnhe and the ever useful Podria 'nar gitar las vachas ame vosautres? These are all lovely phrases, but I'm not sure...

srah - Friday, 1 November 2002 - 7:08 AM
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'If I took enough crack, I bet I could walk on these clouds'

Yesterday Renata, Jennifer, Rachel (the English assistant) and I rented a car to see The Bits of Auvergne You Can't See By Train. Our destination was the Puy-de-Dôme, one of Auvergne's inactive volcanoes, but we took the scenic route and stopped at many other out-of-the-way places while we were at it. Our first brief stop was at St-Nectaire, home of the cheese of the same name, which is one of the cheeses of Auvergne (along with Cantal and Bleu d'Auvergne) and is Stefan's personal favorite. St-Nectaire is another spa town which, despite being hors saison, was quite touristy-looking. We pushed...

srah - Friday, 1 November 2002 - 5:46 AM
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Look out, Martha Stewart

In all my whinging about how I don't know how to cook (I really don't - I had to call my mom for help with hard-boiled and scrambled eggs), I forgot that there is one thing I know how to do, thanks to Baldwin: stir-fry. So I went out and bought veggies and sauces and spices, and have come to one certain conclusion: I am - to paraphrase Ana Gasteyer as Celine Dion - the best cook... in the whole world! No, seriously, I am very happy to have put in all of the chopping and frying effort and to...

srah - Friday, 1 November 2002 - 4:24 AM
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Pictures, continued

Mouse over for captions, if you please. Sophie's braids, as done in Mali (and as undone in Grenoble) Y a quoi à Vichy? (to be continued...) School sweet school Trip to la Grande Chartreuse Assistants' Meeting in Clermont-Ferrand...

srah - Wednesday, 30 October 2002 - 10:16 AM
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Language nerd

At the library today, I borrowed a book-and-tape set for continued Spanish study, a book-free Russian tape set, a book on conversational Italian, and oc!'">L'Auvergnat de poche, a recently published book of words and phrases from the native language of Auvergne. If I tried to learn them all, I would get terribly confused and my head would explode, but it's mostly just to stick my toe in a few new languages and to learn some rules for each one. The tapes are rather old and stretched, so I may have to pick another language where they have CDs, which would...

srah - Tuesday, 29 October 2002 - 12:45 PM
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Non, merci

I have been offered at least five cups of coffee/tea by at least three people since 3:30, when I sat down at this computer. I still don't know if they're trying to hit on me or make up for me having to wait. NO TEA PLEASE!...

srah - Tuesday, 29 October 2002 - 12:00 PM
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First of many

My dad sent me a sample photo from the three rolls I sent with Becky to be developed in the US on paper and CD-ROM. La voici:...

srah - Tuesday, 29 October 2002 - 11:05 AM
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Attack of the nerds

I knew I would not make it through the week without Internet access and that the reserve-in-advance free access at the library would not cut it because they have a cracked-out system that resets itself to the home page if you don't wiggle the mouse every few minutes, so that you can be typing a blog-post about Persuasion, for example, when all of a sudden you find yourself at the library home page. Needless to say, that will not do. (And yet I said it, even thought it was needless!) So I was forced to go to Echapp, also known...

srah - Tuesday, 29 October 2002 - 8:28 AM
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The best baguette I have ever tasted

When I first moved into my apartment, I realized that I was going to have to find somewhere to buy my daily bread. My first baguette vichyssoise was from Casino and was rather disappointing. The next day I went to La Mie Câline and found a baguette that was softer and less crumbly - much more to my liking. Once I found one baguette I liked, I stopped looking, so I've been buying my baguettes there for almost a month. Today I showed up and the woman looked at me and said "Une baguette?" I have been recognized! I am...

srah - Monday, 28 October 2002 - 11:27 AM

Money can so buy knives

Last night when we parted, Jennifer, Renata and I decided we should do "something" today - a "something" that might include travelling "somewhere". When we met at the train station this morning, we deliberated on a destination and finally settled on Thiers, a 45-minute bus ride away in the Puy-de-Dôme department (63). On a side note, I only just realized that the last two digits on French license plates refer to the department the car is from - thus cars from Vichy have a 03 for Allier. Now I like to look out for cars from other departments and am...

srah - Sunday, 27 October 2002 - 7:42 PM
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The Laughing Americans

Renata, Jennifer and I went out last night. First we roamed the streets for a while, trying to find somewhere new to go. We didn't find anything open because, after all, it was Saturday night. So we ended up back at Le Comptoir, where we always end up when we can't find anywhere else to go. Conversation, as usual, turned to Reasons Why We Are Going To Be Deported and Dressing The Boys In Women's Clothing, which both led to hysterical laughter. We will soon be known all over Vichy as the girls who sit down, order one drink, and...

srah - Sunday, 27 October 2002 - 4:15 AM

Persuasion... to invite the loser

I love Jane Austen. I love Persuasion. I love sitting at home all by myself on the first day of vacation and reading Persua... wait, no. In the cafeteria the other day, Agnès and I sat with some of the Optics students and Agnès asked them if they were having any parties to celebrate the half-term. One of them said that they were going to to something and Agnès said that they should invite me. I just sat there like the loser that I am, who has to be pushed on people because she has no friends of her own....

srah - Wednesday, 23 October 2002 - 12:53 PM
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I'm really leaving this time

Okie dokie. I'll see you after the Toussaint holiday. Ha ha! I type that, knowing full-well that I will break down and spend the 4€ an hour at Echapp or move into the library and glom onto their computers. So see you when I have my breakdown. Leave me lots of fun comments to read when I get back!...

srah - Wednesday, 23 October 2002 - 5:52 AM

Among the people I would kick in the gulliver...

I thought that I had blogged about this before, but a quick search of my archives turns up nothing before Monday on "Kubrick". So I must have just ranted aloud. This simply will not do! I cannot go on without recording for the public and for my future self, how much I hate the films of Stanley Kubrick. I saw Dr Strangelove years ago and it scared me. All in all, I found it disjointed and mostly a waste of Peter Sellers. It doesn't seem to me to add much to the genre of bomb-movies. Thus, it is one of...

srah - Tuesday, 22 October 2002 - 4:54 PM
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Who'da thunk it?

I talked to the THOTs about Halloween today and gave them a Halloween wordsearch to do. As I made the wordsearch at the last minute today, I thought 'This is so demeaning, giving them a wordsearch. This is so second grade. They are going to be insulted.' Instead, they seemed to enjoy it quite a lot, it took the whole hour, I think they learned things, and it seemed to be a success. I really have no idea what I'm doing here....

srah - Monday, 21 October 2002 - 10:20 AM

Bus boy girl

The buses here can be significantly early, significantly late, or on time. And if they only stop at your stop once every half-hour, you never know if it's not there because it's late or because it's already come and gone early and there won't be another one for a half an hour. In other words, you never know if it's worth waiting. Grrrrr....

srah - Monday, 21 October 2002 - 2:17 AM

"If you think this country's bad-off now, just wait'll I get through with it"

"What type of music do you like?" my students have asked me. "I like lots of different kinds," I usually answer. Which is true, as evidenced by my choices at the library's discothèque: Satie's Oeuvres pour piano, Vanessa Paradis' Bliss, Echoes of Chile, and The Marx Brothers Sing and Play. My book selection ranged from Persuasion to A Clockwork Orange, so that's not much better....

srah - Saturday, 19 October 2002 - 10:00 AM
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Un mois

Today is the 19th, so I've been in France for one month now. I would say it doesn't feel like a month, but it does, so I won't. What a fascinating post....

srah - Saturday, 19 October 2002 - 9:56 AM

The Anti-Social

What are my hobbies? Why thank you for asking. I enjoy sitting in the dark and watching movies, sitting in front of a computer screen and typing, or sitting down and reading a book. Anything that doesn't involve too much movement or socialization is ideal, thank you. So remind me, why am I bored and lonely?...

srah - Friday, 18 October 2002 - 7:21 AM

Pidgin English

This morning, I caught myself telling my class that my sister has 18 years old. Their literally-translated-from-French English is affecting me too. I'm pretty sure there's no hope for me and I will come back in April unable to communicate in my native language. Or French, for that matter....

srah - Thursday, 17 October 2002 - 2:41 PM
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Inertia is a property of srah

The Toussaint vacation is approaching (much more quickly than I'd realized, actually) and Jennifer is making amazing, fantastic, 700€ plans to travel around Spain. Much as I would have loved to accompany her, I don't want to spend 700€ on a trip before I even get my first 700€ paycheck (à la Spain was good, but now I have to starve for a month). Plus, I really don't feel like going anywhere. I know I'll regret it when I have no classes to go to, no Internet access, and everyone's gone, but staying home is so cheap and comfortable. I...

srah - Thursday, 17 October 2002 - 2:25 PM

Fin de semaine

My weekend this week begins now, at lunchtime on Thursday. Lucky girl! I'm sure I'll have loads to blog on Monday, after my adventures with the Freshies in Grenoble. I'm planning on indirectly telling them they're a bunch of alcoholics. Ha ha. This weekend is also when I'll be seeing the first film from the Club Cinéma, of which I am now a card-carrying member....

srah - Thursday, 17 October 2002 - 7:02 AM


I went to the public library yesterday to get a card and feed my voracious hunger for the written word. I am out of control. I will eat read two a night. I need to get started on French ones, because that will slow me down. So I have Foreign Exchanges in honor of me, Northanger Abbey in honor of Becky, and The Pyramid in honor of Piggy and his ass-mar....

srah - Thursday, 17 October 2002 - 6:50 AM
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Jour de la grève

It's strangely deserted at school today. This was not expected to be a big strike, and it isn't as big here as in other schools, but there are still quite a few profs who aren't here, including two of the three I have classes with today. Then all of the students have stayed at home, "in sympathy for the teachers" but probably really to have a day off of school. I've decided I like it. It's different from the everyday grind - an adventure. The cafeteria staff are en grève too, so we have to fend for ourselves. And, as...

srah - Thursday, 17 October 2002 - 4:46 AM

France Télécom, part trois

"Why yes," said the woman at France Télécom, "Your phone is possessed by Satan." Actually, she didn't say that because I didn't offer my theory on the situation. But it was the phone that was the problem (this time) so they replaced it and I'm all set. Woot, as all those crazy Internet kids say....

srah - Tuesday, 15 October 2002 - 10:30 AM

In case you wondered

Question: Does it make more sense to wait 30 minutes for the bus or to walk home in 25? Answer: Depends on your shoes and whether or not you have a life....

srah - Tuesday, 15 October 2002 - 7:09 AM

(Cultural?) Misunderstandings

I think I have convinced an entire class of future hotel/restaurant managers that one of my grandmothers was a spy when the Americans fought the Soviets in WWII, and the other was born in the Netherlands and founded the War Brides Association. Oops....

srah - Tuesday, 15 October 2002 - 3:01 AM
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Yoo hoo, Linda Blair calling... (14.10.02)

I was sitting here, looking over students' papers when all of a sudden, my supposedly-not-working phone started wildly beeping. I can't find any way to stop it, short of unplugging it from the line, so I eventually had to do that. I think it is possessed by the devil, and that is exactly what I'm going to say to France Télécom when I go for my daily visit to their office. I went outside to see if someone was working on the line and that's why it suddenly came to life, but no one was there. They're heeeeeeeeeeere......

srah - Tuesday, 15 October 2002 - 2:43 AM

When in Cusset, do as the Romains do

I actually get to observe a class! I am sitting in on the first-year BTS Optique class, trying to learn names and faces. One of the faces is called Romain, just like three of the students in the Terminale BEP Ventes class I had at 9:00. I found Danièle at 9:00 and she sent me to another room with half of the class, the Groupe N° 1. Luckily I had come up with a list of questions to ask in case I was abandoned with a group of students and had nothing prepared. Which I was. I had two students...

srah - Monday, 14 October 2002 - 11:01 AM

Jamais il ne se coiffait, jamais il ne se lavait... (13.10.02)

I am in love. His name is Jojo, he lives in the backwoods farming country of Central Auvergne, he wears a black leather jacket... and he is four years old. No longer feeling like I was dying of la crève, I wandered around downtown and by the river this afternoon, but when the Sunday-shopping crowds started getting to me and the sun went behind the clouds, I found myself next to the cinéma Mat, just in time for the 2:30 showing of Être et avoir. The movie, an official selection at Cannes, was a very delightful way to spend the...

srah - Monday, 14 October 2002 - 10:56 AM
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France Télécom, part deux (12.10.02)

The repairman finally showed up at two and took a look at the wires, which are a complete mess and will have to be redone. But the people who do that don't work on Saturdays, so France Télécom will call me to set up a time when they can come. Isn't that charming? I do so love it when my chums from France Télécom come to visit. Perhaps I'll have to bake them some muffins....

srah - Monday, 14 October 2002 - 10:20 AM

Open letter to France Télécom (12.10.02)

Dear France Télécom, I hate you with all of my heart and soul. You told me my land line would work on Tuesday and gave me a number to call if it didn't, which made me suspect that it wouldn't. And, of course, it didn't. I called the number on Tuesday and you told me to stay home Friday afternoon between 3:30 and 5:00 because someone would come by to look at it. I came home at 3:00 on Friday to find that you'd left a card, saying that you'd been there Thursday at 4:30 and - surprise! - no...

srah - Monday, 14 October 2002 - 4:55 AM
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Where have all the cobayes gone? (12.10.02)

I was volunteered as a cobaye to the BTS Optique students who are in an alternating work/study program. They have all of the equipment in the school, so they gave me an eye test. I started out trying to answer in English, but I gave up when I was reading the eye-chart letters too fast for them to translate. All in all, it was the most amusing eye test I've ever had, because the five students testing me would argue over which step came next and what the various results meant. I, meanwhile, was trapped behind the enormous goggle-machine and...

srah - Monday, 14 October 2002 - 4:40 AM

The sister and child reunion is less than a week away (12.10.02)

My freshman year, our First Year Seminar took a trip to France as part of our studies on cultural understanding and the relationship between Albion and France. Ours was the first year, but now my sister is in the same First Year Seminar and is on her way to France as I write this. No one from Albion is studying abroad in France this year. It probably has something to do with Dianne and Emmanuel's back-to-back sabbatical years, so there was no one to encourage this year's group to go there. Because Albion has no students studying abroad in France,...

srah - Monday, 14 October 2002 - 4:24 AM

Reasons teachers miss school: la crève and la grève

I've decided I'm coming down with something and I fear it may be la crève, which has been going around school all week. So I will just hole up and nap and have hot tea and clementines all day so I can be healthy for my first day of Real Classes....

srah - Sunday, 13 October 2002 - 10:38 AM
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Waitin' for the dinner bell to do the bell thing

On a positive note, while waiting for dinner time to roll around, I finally got bored enough to sit down and sort out my graduate school applications. Half of it will be off to Rackham as soon as I get to La Poste, and all that's left to do is the essay. Thankfully Mr Colas, the harried Technology Maestro at the school, says he'll be setting me up a user ID next week. Then I'll have access to the school's intranet diskspace, so I won't have to do the whole thing in one sitting....

srah - Saturday, 12 October 2002 - 10:27 AM
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Monday, Monday

I start my official schedule on Monday at 9am with Danièle and the TV2s (17-year-old Sales students). I haven't been able to find Danièle since I got my schedule, so I hope I'm not supposed to prepare anything. I would explain the different groups to you, but despite the explanations of Annie and Agnès, I'm not sure I get it myself. As I've understood it, first there are the BEP students, who are in a two-year program. They can stop there and work, or they can do a one-year Adaptation class followed by the BAC Terminale class, so that they...

srah - Saturday, 12 October 2002 - 4:23 AM

Happy assistant

One of my BTS Optique students just sat down next to me here in the library computer lab and we had a conversation in English. He thinks it will be very interesting to learn English from a native English speaker. It makes me happy when people are interested in learning....

srah - Friday, 11 October 2002 - 4:25 AM


I keep speaking to students in French when they come into the library computer lab. Bad srah. I am not supposed to be able to speak French. Why don't they just hire people who actually don't?...

srah - Thursday, 10 October 2002 - 7:00 AM


I have to go home and eat lunch. Perhaps I'll come back and bother you some more in the afternoon, if I feel like hoofing it back up here in this crappy weather. If you find articles or ads in English related to the fields of optics, healthcare, hospitality, or restaurants, let me know, because those are the groups I've been assigned to....

srah - Thursday, 10 October 2002 - 6:44 AM

La grève?

There may or may not be a teachers' strike on the 17th. I may or may not work. The school may or may not be closed. I know none of this right now. Sigh. The bus strike continues......

srah - Thursday, 10 October 2002 - 6:43 AM


Especially after watching La Memoire dans la peau, this just seems like a movie to me. But it must be very scary for the people there....

srah - Thursday, 10 October 2002 - 6:03 AM

The Srah Identity

As I walked home from the movie last night, I felt super-aware of my surroundings, afraid that CIA agents were going to jump out and grab me or just take sniper shots at me from the roof. Yes, because of course, I am a supersecret spy and the CIA is going to take an interest in me. What I should be more concerned about is normal criminals, I guess. Vichy, as you may have heard, is full of old people. Old people like to get their rest. So Vichy shuts down in the evenings and goes to sleep. Walking home...

srah - Thursday, 10 October 2002 - 5:46 AM
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Hi, my name is - What? - My name is...

Renata and Rachel tell me that they spent their first week observing as the teachers taught, so that they knew the students' level of English and what they're studying in class. Now today they have their first lesson, where they will introduce themselves to the class. My school seems to have it all backwards. I've already introduced myself and they're going to let me loose on Monday with no idea what the students are supposed to be learning about......

srah - Thursday, 10 October 2002 - 5:40 AM

Vichy in the dark

I HATE DUBBED MOVIES. That said, there isn't much else to do around here. Tuesday night I saw Le Pianiste with Agnès and Sigrid and last night I was La Memoire dans la peau with Renata and Rachel. Le Pianiste was good, in a touching-war-movie sort of way. True stories often seem more fake to me than fiction does and there were a lot of violent scenes with people getting shot in the head. But I suppose it did add something to the genre and it was rather beautiful with the music and all, so I enjoyed it. There were...

srah - Thursday, 10 October 2002 - 5:40 AM
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Welcome to Hogwarts! (9.10.02)

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but one of the things I find interesting about le lycée Valéry Larbaud is that it has some boarding students. I don't know what the percentage is, but there are quite a few of them. They arrive with their enormous duffel bags on Monday and stay in the boarding area at the back of the school until Friday, when they take the bus or the train back home again. I didn't even know that this existed in France before I came here. So you see, at least this year will be an...

srah - Thursday, 10 October 2002 - 5:31 AM

Vichy: the myth, the reality (9.10.02)

This past weekend, Jennifer, Renata and I were talking about people's reactions when we told them we were going to Vichy. If people had heard of it at all, it was because of its World War II history. But even then, I got an email from an assistant in the Nancy-Metz académie, saying how we must be right near each other because he was teaching in Forbach, on the French-German border. What do you know about Vichy?...

srah - Thursday, 10 October 2002 - 5:31 AM

La débarquement (9.10.02)

Agnès and I went this afternoon to LeClerc, the big Meijers-style supermarket in Bellerive. She noticed that in the yogurt aisle, they were carrying cottage cheese (marketed under the very French name of "cottage cheese") and said that it was the first time she had seen it in France. Now we just need to get fromage blanc going in the other direction. Have I told you I love Petits Suisses?...

srah - Thursday, 10 October 2002 - 5:30 AM
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Help wanted (9.10.02)

Any recipes or cooking advice for a beginner in the world of the culinary arts can be sent here. Nothing fancy, please - I've only just mastered boiling pasta. The word "culinary" reminds me that in the staff list of the handbook that I got from Valéry Larbaud, the yet unnamed Hôtellerie et Technologie Culinaire teacher was referred to as Mr X HOT CUL. I giggled....

srah - Thursday, 10 October 2002 - 5:30 AM
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My So-Called Life (9.10.02)

My life is so rich and full of excitement. I am actually rather pleased about the construction that is going on at Monoprix, my local supermarket. They are redoing everything, it seems, because every time I go there (which is every day - I have a rich and exciting life and nothing better to do than go to Monoprix every day), everything has moved. It's actually rather impressive how impossible they've made it to find things from one day to the next. Yesterday I was lucky enough to be blocked in while they were dragging a whole shelf to a...

srah - Thursday, 10 October 2002 - 3:56 AM
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Faits divers (9.10.02)

Seen on the streets of Vichy: a street performer/mime-type-thingy-person performing to the theme music from Yogi Bear an act which had absolutely nothing to do with Yogi Bear....

srah - Thursday, 10 October 2002 - 3:47 AM

Pet peeve of the day

Ineffective yhpargonrop filters. This school has some kind of idiotic filters set up, which tell me that the JohnHannah.net Career page and the Television Without Pity MDs recap have yhpargonrop on them, so I can't see them. On the other hand, I sat down at a computer yesterday with a folder called ""tludA" with an icon of a dekan woman. Lovely....

srah - Thursday, 10 October 2002 - 3:23 AM
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My Stupid Mouth

Sometimes when we have the personal introduction period in class here, I find myself babbling about things no one cares about, or about things they didn't need to know. I really don't know where these things come from. I have classes that think I'm obsessed with Petits Suisses (I am, but why did I need to share?) and mustard (ditto - I swear, I don't just eat it out of the jar), or who I told that if you are speeding in Ohio with Michigan license plates, you're more likely to be pulled over than an Ohioan. Then there are...

srah - Wednesday, 9 October 2002 - 5:10 AM


I get mostly the same questions over and over again as I introduce myself to my classes, so I've had some practice answering those... it's the new ones that throw me out of whack. Do I like waterpolo? I certainly wasn't expecting that!...

srah - Tuesday, 8 October 2002 - 6:28 AM

Diamonds on the insoles of her shoes

No, actually, my feet are a little better today. 6€ better, but better. I woke up at 7:44 this morning. For my 8:00 class. I got dressed in five minutes and took a taxi to school and was still almost 10 minutes late so I arrived huffing and puffing and sweating and unshowered, then realized I had forgotten to put my contacts in and was wearing my glasses. So I survived the 2POLs, who didn't have as many questions as I would have liked, then I got a free hour to comb my hair, put in contacts, and blog. Especially...

srah - Tuesday, 8 October 2002 - 3:57 AM

I almost want to go there

I have just read in my guidebook that the country of Andorra is 25km from north to south. We could have walked across a whole country yesterday! I am fascinated....

srah - Tuesday, 8 October 2002 - 3:45 AM


French handwriting, even at its neatest, can still be a bit difficult for me to decipher. Which explains why, while reading paragraphs written by Danièle's class about my self-introduction, I thought someone said I had lice....

srah - Tuesday, 8 October 2002 - 3:30 AM

L'assistante au travail

The classes are starting to melt together. It will probably be better once I have my schedule and I know which classes will be "mine", and once I start to actually learn people's names. For now, I can't tell the difference between THOT, S2HOT and 1AHOT or between 1SMS and 1ASMS or 2POL and S2OL. Maybe no one knows the difference. Maybe I will never know. For now I just spend the days completely confused, waiting for people to tell me where to go and what to say to the class. I hope I get some more guidance before they...

srah - Tuesday, 8 October 2002 - 3:28 AM

Representative of my country

I'm not a Good American. I'm sorry. I'm not going to take the easy way out, and I'm not going to wave my little flag. I'm going to tell the truth, even when trying to explain, slowly and clearly, to my students. In the end, I sound negative and like I have nothing to do but complain about my country, but I think they should know the real me, and not the easier-to-explain version of the world. I don't like Señor Arbusto, I don't think we should go to war, I think the United States did not react in the...

srah - Monday, 7 October 2002 - 6:24 AM
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P'tit bonjour

Welcome to any students of le Lycée Valéry Larbaud who may be visiting. If you are here, please leave a message in the guestbook!...

srah - Monday, 7 October 2002 - 4:58 AM

And I would walk 500 miles... (6.10.02)

When I woke up this morning, my first thought was not Hmmm, how about I walk until my feet fall off? And yet I did. I will miss those feet, as I've had them for quite a while and have grown rather attached. Jennifer suggested last night that we go for a bike ride or a walk around the area, so we met up at 10am today. Finding no bike rental shops open, we set off on foot. We walked through Cusset and out the other side, throught a mountainous forest area that reminded me of Le pacte des loups....

srah - Monday, 7 October 2002 - 4:54 AM
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First day of school (4.10.02)

What a linguistic mess. I am absolutely forbidden to speak French in class, which is not easy when you go to class directly from the teacher's lounge, where you've been talking to the teachers in French during the recrée and the rest of the morning. My brain hurts. I "observed" four classes today. I thought that "observing" would mean that I would "observe" classes and not be involved. Silly girl. In most of the classes, we spent a big chunk of time with me standing in front of the class and answering and asking questions. Terminale Sciènces Médico-Sociales (TSMS): The...

srah - Saturday, 5 October 2002 - 12:40 PM

Prima nocta (4.10.02)

Or whatever. I met with Mmes. Alléas and Messana, the outgoing concierge and incoming owner, respectively, of the building I'm living in, yesterday afternoon. Mme. Messana is still in the process of buying it, and the process is going longer than originally expected. We signed a new contract, since the one we'd signed before had the wrong address on it, which has led to no end of ennuis for me personally, since I gave the wrong address out to everyone I know and had to knock on the very scary, beware-of-dog-marked door of 35, avenue Paul Doumer, and try to...

srah - Saturday, 5 October 2002 - 12:37 PM

Snobisme à la vichyssoise

We had our orientation session this week in Clermont-Ferrand, 40 minutes from Vichy. They brought together all of the language assistantes in Auvergne to give us information about how to teach, what forms to fill out, and how to deal with difficult situations. They also expected us to socialize with our fellow assistants. For some reason, les vichyssoises-américaines had a big problem with the socializing aspect. We had already met each other, and didn't really have much interest in bonding with people we would never see again, so we mostly hung together. We did adopt a fourth member into our...

srah - Thursday, 3 October 2002 - 12:17 PM

Meeuuuuh! (28.9.02)

Vichy's one-and-only (that I've found, anyway) Internet café is running over with nerdtosterone. That's the only way I can think of to describe it. Upon entering their dark, dank lair, I immediately feel out of place, as I am almost always a) the only female and b) the only one not playing computer games. The residents of Echapp sit there for hours at a time (which I know because I myself am there for hours at a time), spending Euro after Euro (the place is rather expensive), playing violent computer games. One of the games involves shooting people on a...

srah - Sunday, 29 September 2002 - 3:02 PM

A la chasse (28.9.02)

Today I was wasting time before my train by wandering around the pedestrianiwed shopping area of Vichy and heard English. I hid on the other side of the postcard rack and listened, but they weren't talking anymore. I followed them down the street and I think I freaked them out by the way I was staring. I finally approached them (I wasn't going to, but I thought I should explain why I was being so creepy) and found out that they were Irish, Swedish, German, etc., that they were (for reasons I didn't ask about) staying in a castle in...

srah - Sunday, 29 September 2002 - 3:01 PM

Douze heures (28.9.02)

My work schedule has yet to be worked out, but I know that it will be twelve hours a week, which they will try to fit into three days a week. Thus, I have 156 hours a week left to fill. If you want une carte postale vichyssoise, email me your address. I imagine I will be doing a lot of writing....

srah - Sunday, 29 September 2002 - 3:00 PM

Presque pas (28.9.02)

Yesterday I went to a meeting of the Club Cinéma with Agnès. At one point, when they were talking about recruiting young people from the Pôle Lardy and the CAVILAM, Agnès pointed out that une assistante américaine had come to the meeting of her own free will, and there must be other young people who would be interested. So after the meeting, hordes of people came up to talk to me and find out where I was from and what I was doing in Vichy. Americans are much rarer here than in Grenoble. The Vice-President of the club, who is...

srah - Sunday, 29 September 2002 - 6:41 AM
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Productivity up

Today I opened a bank account, had lunch with Renata, applied for my carte de sejour, and bought socks (I have way too many, but with the whole thinking-I'd-be-wearing-skirts thing, I didn't bring enough. If I can go a while longer without doing laundry, that's good, because I don't have time right now)....

srah - Friday, 27 September 2002 - 9:54 AM

Caught up!

I thought it would take more than one evening, but I typed up all of the posts I had written down in my notebook in my hotel room. Hurrah. And it's a good day, for many reasons. 1) I have an apartment. I had called Mme Alléas, who had Mme Massena call me, and I really had no idea what was going on. But I had a meeting with Mme Massena today and she showed me one of 15 apartments she has to rent in the Villa Montcalm, which she just bought from Mme Alléas, I guess. It's cheaper than...

srah - Thursday, 26 September 2002 - 5:19 PM

These boots weren't made for walking

Come to France, bored and lonely, if you're looking to lose a few pounds. Or a few inches of shoe leather for that matter. I have nothing to do so I just walk around downtown, searching the feet of passers-by for American-looking shoes....

srah - Thursday, 26 September 2002 - 5:03 PM
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"Yum yum" said Max

Do you know Max? Never mind. Another delicious gastronomic specialty of the Auvergne is... beef tongue. I am in a "Tex-Mex/Français" restaurant where that is the plat du jour. I am having a steak-frites instead....

srah - Thursday, 26 September 2002 - 5:01 PM
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Damn you, Immo Vichy (25.9.02)

I finally got to visit an apartment today. This one was through an agency, Immo Vichy. The Immo Vichy woman showed me the apartment, which was a delightful studio (read: kitchen in the bedroom) with construction work going on outside, no closet space, no linens, and no oven, all for the delightful price of 250€, which of course does not include tax or utilities. I told her I'd call her. I got an email from one of the other American assistants in the Vichy agglomeration, telling me her phone number and address and saying she was lonely and had an...

srah - Thursday, 26 September 2002 - 4:57 PM
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Abbrev. movie review (24.9.02)

Saw La Callas tonight with profs from V. Larbaud. Don't know English title. Music v. good. Film dragged when there was no music. On the whole recommended, as is soundtrack. Saw preview for I'm With Lucy (dubbed)....

srah - Thursday, 26 September 2002 - 4:47 PM
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A la chasse aux appartements (24.9.02)

Everything is taken or the contact number is wrong. Or it's too far away on the wrong side of town. I give up. I'm moving into the basement of l'Opéra. You can hear me play the organ and whine about Christine. On a more serious note, I do get to visit one (overpriced, one-person) apartment tomorrow afternoon. It is supposed to have an oven. So maybe even if I'm a masked recluse, I can bake cookies. Odd mental picture, that....

srah - Thursday, 26 September 2002 - 4:45 PM

Shopping (24.9.02)

Srah's big purchases of the day: a portable and new shoes. The shoes were for the feet that were tired of high-heeled boots and too cold for sandals. The phone was for contacting prospective apartment-renters. -Rentees? -Loaners? The phone is red and has many features, including an alarm clock (very useful). The shoes are black bowling-style shoes and have many features, including laces (also very useful). The end....

srah - Thursday, 26 September 2002 - 4:40 PM

Le lycée Valery Larbaud à Cusset (24.9.02)

I went to my school today to meet people and find out where it is. I walked, regretted it, and later bought new shoes. It's a very nice, modern building, built in 1997. It's full of glass and fountains and light. Do they have tornadoes in France? And more importantly, nicetomeetyoucanIuseyourcomputers?...

srah - Thursday, 26 September 2002 - 4:34 PM

Mlle. Dupont (24.9.02)

Robin and Cheryl jokingly asked if I would get to take on a French name while I was here, the way we did in middle school language classes. Well, I'm giving it serious thought. People have a real problem with putting a C right after an M in my name. I can see why: McN doesn't seem quite pronounceable. But there is so much time-wasting and confusion, and so much attention brought to me and my name, that I give up. Following the spelling disaster, there is the standard "C'est ecossais, non?", which often leads to the misunderstanding that I...

srah - Thursday, 26 September 2002 - 4:23 PM

Welcome to historic Vichy! (23.9.02)

I arrived, set off on the wrong street, got lost. Pulled out my bulky guidebook (the one with I AM A TOURIST written all over it in bright orange flashing letters), got to the hotel, pulled on the door, and it was locked. Why was it locked at 6:30pm? I tried again. I looked around for a doorbell for a while and thus was just standing outside the hotel when the manager came up to the door and pushed it open. Do you see our little problem there? There's really nothing to say in these situations, in English or in...

srah - Thursday, 26 September 2002 - 1:05 PM
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Early-year stress (23.9.02)

I've never rented an apartment or looked for an apartment or moved for that matter. I think I will survive, though, as long qs all of the apartments haven't been taken already. Now I'm wondering about all of the other things I have to do. There's so much bureaucracy and red tape (I can't remember the French word - is it paperasse?) to get through and there's a specific order to the steps, because one must have tel document before one can acquire tel document, which one must have before one can do suchandsuch. This wouldn't be so bad if...

srah - Thursday, 26 September 2002 - 12:40 PM

Found: one Internet café

Yay. Millions of posts to follow....

srah - Thursday, 26 September 2002 - 12:37 PM

'Allo 'Allo

Hello, I'm alive. I'm in Vichy and looking for apartments. I'm using the computer at the home of one of the English teachers, so... more when I have more time. Bye!...

srah - Wednesday, 25 September 2002 - 8:02 AM

Leaving on a jet train

Or the slow kind, actually. I'm off to Vichy tomorrow, to get my bearings, meet people at my school, and look around for an apartment, as if I know how to do such a thing. AAAAAAAH! Stress time again....

srah - Sunday, 22 September 2002 - 3:50 PM

Je ne sais pas que idioma wo am speaking de temps en temps

With 22 years of English, 10 years of French, 1 year of Spanish, and 1 semester of Mandarin Chinese, my mind is a big linguistic muddle sometimes. I was showing my Chile pictures to Françoise last night and would switch to Spanish whenever I said a Spanish place-name, although I pronounced the Spanish place-name à la française. When I was talking to the other Srah and other Morins would enter the room, I would try to speak to them in English. When I took Chinese and didn't know the Chinese word, it would come out in English. When I'm on...

srah - Sunday, 22 September 2002 - 1:15 PM
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Françoise's brother Michel and his wife, Brigitte, came for lunch yesterday. It was nice to see them again and they recognized me from the last time. When I told them what I was doing in France and told them I was going to be near Vichy, their reaction was Oh là là, c'est pas un peu humide là-bas? Lovely. When I told Antoine I was going to be somewhere in Auvergne, he told me it was the coldest region in France. Cold and wet. So of course now I've been here two days and am wondering what idiot packed my...

srah - Sunday, 22 September 2002 - 6:02 AM

And so it begins

It only took me two hours in France to start seeing people who aren't there. Not in a Sixth Sense "I see dead people" kind of way, but in the way where I look at people and think they're people I know. I think I'm lonely....

srah - Friday, 20 September 2002 - 8:32 AM

Suzy Traveller and Joe Badlypacked

My dad helped me out by dragging my enormous suitcase through the airport while I pulled my carry-on and carried my purse. For a moment, I caught a glimpse of my reflection with my sensible bag and high-heeled boots and thought, There is a business professional, travelling off somewhere with her sensible luggage. I looked back at my dad, lugging a monster of a bag through the airport and thought, There's someone who packed waaaaaaaaaay too much stuff. The horrible thing is that I was the bad packer, with the savvy traveller on top. Boo packing. If I get to...

srah - Friday, 20 September 2002 - 7:51 AM
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Travelling stress

I was a bundle of nerves as I prepared to leave for France. That morning, I had finally decided to be nervous, and nervous I was. Even more so after my bags were packed and I was foreseeing carrying that mammoth suitcase all over France, when I could barely lift it at all. Where earlier I had been envisioning comical scenarios in the Franquefort airport, trying to learn German, all I cared about was getting to Grenoble with my horrible valises maladroites....

srah - Friday, 20 September 2002 - 7:25 AM

Honey, I'm home

I've arrived in Grenoble, where I'm spending the weekend and typing up all thirteen or so of the posts I wrote down on the trip here. I hqd forgotten hoz ,uch I hqted French keyboqrqds:::...

srah - Friday, 20 September 2002 - 6:35 AM

Just so's you know

All week For months, I've been rather bored and aloof about going to France. Well this morning, I woke up and I am now scared out of my mind. So I guess I'm human after all. Drat. There go my mutant super-powers....

srah - Wednesday, 18 September 2002 - 9:22 AM

Après moi, la deluge of posts in franglais

A plus, tout le monde! The WeatherPixie is now set for Vichy. Be sure to update your browsers so that you can see title tags like this (mouseover "this" to see if you can), because I'm sure I'll be blogging away in French/Franglais once I get there and you'll want to read the translations....

srah - Wednesday, 18 September 2002 - 8:40 AM
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Goodbye to the Albionites

Becky and Alex came to Ann Arbor today to say goodbye to me before I left and to distract me from the packing I was supposed to be doing. It's weird not having Becky come to the airport to see me off, for the first time in my long traveling experience....

srah - Tuesday, 17 September 2002 - 6:30 PM
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Another lovely thing about Auvergne, Let's Go points out, is their regional delicacies, including tripoux, which is sheep's feet stuffed with sheep's stomach. Sounds almost as appetizing as haggis!...

srah - Tuesday, 17 September 2002 - 2:34 PM
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Don't drink the water

I always meant to post, and I think I never did, about the sources de Vichy, the mineral springs in and near the town, that are supposed to cure all kinds of ills and attract people from all over the world to drink them. My 2000 Let's Go guide describes the various types of water as: disgusting, nauseating, lukewarm, carbonate-charged, powerful, flat, chock-full of sulphur, rotten-egg smell, vile, hard-hitting, and lingering. I hope the tap water's okay......

srah - Tuesday, 17 September 2002 - 2:08 PM

Best school ever

My lycée sent me a packet with a big picture of the school on the front. It looks very lovely. It was only built in 1997. Inside, the packet has details about each of the fields of study (it's all Greek to me - I can't tell the difference between a BEP carrières sanitaires et sociales and a BAC sciences médico-sociales) and, more importantly, leads on accomodations. So I should be pretty set by the time I get there. Now all I have to worry about it how to lug my millions of pairs of shoes (that's what's going to...

srah - Tuesday, 17 September 2002 - 9:50 AM
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Shoulda but didna

AAAAAAAH! Why didn't I start packing earlier? Why didn't I clean my room faster? I leave tomorrow. There is way too much to do. But the Pato is coming to visit me and to say goodbye. We shall have to put him to work....

srah - Tuesday, 17 September 2002 - 9:21 AM

Uh oh

10 days until I leave. Extent of my packing? A few things tossed towards a suitcase. Hmmm....

srah - Sunday, 8 September 2002 - 12:11 PM

Packing? Whazzat?

One of the hardest things about packing is going to be deciding which CDs to bring and which to leave behind. I am a very picky kind of person who can't listen to the same CD two days in a row, except maybe these two. Maybe I should just take nothing and buy all-new CDs at the Fnac in Vichy... oh wait, there isn't one. I always thought my CD collection was pretty small, but that's because I lived with Roommate, who has the largest CD collection on earth. Mine, apparently, pales only in comparison with hers. People would come...

srah - Friday, 6 September 2002 - 11:21 AM
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I have been making some efforts (although clearly I'm not at the moment, because I'm sitting at the computer, typing) to clean my room. Apparently there is carpet on the floor in my room. I can almost see it. Mommy would be proud. How can someone who is so obsessed with dusting between the keyboard keys live in such clutter? Maybe I see the keyboard as something I can handle, whereas the room is completely out of control. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! How am I going to get this room clean before I leave? Any volunteers to clean it for me? I haven't...

srah - Friday, 6 September 2002 - 11:15 AM

Email can be good

When I opened up my email tonight, I had 26 new messages. Rather impressively, it wasn't all spam. Along with the barrage of emails from my fellow France-assistants, I have one from Sophie, who's back from Mali, and another from an English teacher at le Lycée V. Larbaud. Another message talks about my new web hosting plan and domain name (changeover to come soon, I hope!). In addition to all that, I have email from friends. Hooray!...

srah - Wednesday, 4 September 2002 - 10:43 PM

Por ejemplo, Citrón

One of the things I miss when I'm away from the United States is driving. Not the driving itself, mind you, because I hate that. But the being locked up in an enclosed space all alone. The freedom to talk or sing to yourself without inflicting it on others or being judged by them. I love to turn a song waaaaaaay up and sing along in the car. You're enclosed with the music, you don't have to worry about bothering family members or neighbors, and you can really get into it... unless you're stopped at a light and people are...

srah - Tuesday, 3 September 2002 - 1:21 PM
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It appears that there is no Fnac in Vichy. No Fnac in Vichy, in Cusset, in Bellerive-sur-Allier. From what I can tell, the nearest one is in Clermont-Ferrand. This will be sad for me, or it may be a good thing. Fnac-addict that I am, I don't know what I'll do with my free time, if not browsing at the Fnac. But at least I'll save money if I'm not impulse-buying Jacques Higelin CDs *shudder*....

srah - Thursday, 29 August 2002 - 2:29 PM

Mind if I use the blog to record my bookmarks?

I found another site about le lycée Valery Larbaud. Pickshers an' everthing. This one's my favorite....

srah - Friday, 9 August 2002 - 9:26 AM

Will I stay or will I go?

Last week when I bought my ticket to France, I asked the travel agent if I could have an e-ticket. I've never had one before, so I thought it would be cool and harder to lose. Unfortunately, they told me that Lufthansa doesn't do e-tickets, and I would have to pick up my paper ticket on Friday. I forgot on Friday, so I came in on Monday to pick up my ticket. They looked it up in the computer and said apparently I had an e-ticket. All of the other travel agents gathered around and said that they had never...

srah - Wednesday, 7 August 2002 - 11:08 AM
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Socially inept

I went out last night with a couple of fellow assistants from Ann Arbor. On the way there, I was telling myself not to be nervous and not to be that shy little person I sometimes am. I think I went in the wrong direction, though... I don't know if they noticed or if it was just me being paranoid, but I felt like I talked all the time and wouldn't stop talking about myself. And I just talked and talked without thinking, so and idea would come out of my mouth and I had no idea where it came...

srah - Sunday, 4 August 2002 - 8:33 AM
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Me learn Auvergnat? Mais oc!

A new guide to learning Auvergnat, the regional language of Auvergne (a variation of Occitan, one of the ancient forms of French) has just been published in France. Apparently there's a movement to revive the language. There is an immersion school at Aurillac (how cool would that be? Why didn't I go to an immersion school?) and you can study it at the university at Clermont-Ferrand. I'll have to buy the book and try to learn some while I'm in Cusset....

srah - Tuesday, 30 July 2002 - 10:32 AM
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I'm going to France!

I finally got around to buying my ticket (still haven't finished the visa application - so much to do, so much TV being watched). I'm flying Lufthansa (which has the stupidest online flight tracker in the world) on the 18th of September, arriving on the 19th. I've never flown Lufthansa before, but American, which was slightly cheaper, doesn't share mileage-plans with Northwest or United, so I would have had to apply for yet another frequent flyer plan. Now I can add my France-miles to my Chile-miles and get... I don't know what I can get, but I will have something...

srah - Tuesday, 30 July 2002 - 10:24 AM

Saving on shoe leather

Hooray! Cusset seems to be served by the réseau de buses vichyssois! Bus good. Walking bad, even if it is only 2km between Cusset and Vichy. I need a good map. I feel funny saying "vichyssois(e)". Makes me think of the soup. But then, many things about Vichy make me feel funny. Ahem....

srah - Monday, 22 July 2002 - 11:49 AM

Employed little srah

When we got back from our trip, there was a little pink slip in our mail, saying that I had a registered letter from a foreign destination to pick up. Well, I picked it up. Before I knew my region, I said to myself, "Well, I know people in Grenoble, so that would be a good place to be placed. I know Antoine in Nantes, so that would be good. Savoie would be fine, because I know Pénélope there. If I were placed in Lille, I could go up to Belgium and see Christianna. I like Strasbourg, and I like...

srah - Tuesday, 16 July 2002 - 11:25 AM


I have just realized that I have little or no patience with stupid people, or people who don't apply themselves. Well, I didn't just realize that... I've always known that, but I just realized how it will pertain to my life. What kind of an assistante am I going to be? Those kids had better try to learn some English. Patience, srah, patience....

srah - Monday, 3 June 2002 - 10:41 AM
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Next year, I will be...

Somewhere in the school district of Clermont-Ferrand. Hooray for me!...

srah - Friday, 3 May 2002 - 12:15 AM

Independence looms ever nearer

Wanted: Small, clean apartment in a non-scary neighborhood, with full bathroom and some sort of kitchen-like area where one might learn to cook or at least heat frozen foods. Location: unknown so far, but probably somewhere in France, assuming I get the assistantship. I've never lived alone before. I imagine it will be quite lonely. I dno't know how to make friends. I imagine it will be rather pricey, but I've never paid rent before. I don't know how much is normal. I don't know how much money it will require to feed and house me or if the money...

srah - Wednesday, 27 February 2002 - 9:14 PM
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D'oh part 2

Okay, I'll talk about it now. I've looked it over and maybe I'm not quite as stupid as I thought. Still stupid, but not as stupid. All this time, when I've looked at the webpage for the assistantship position, I have been reading the second part, where it says Remuneration The gross remuneration of foreign assistants is 890 Euros, minus approximately 60 € for Social Security (medical insurance). Now, is it just me, or does gross remuneration sound like that's all you get? 830 € converts to about $718. So I have been thinking, ever since I applied, that I...

srah - Tuesday, 29 January 2002 - 10:46 PM

Everything is sent

Everything is sent. Everything is finished. Only two classes and ISU tomorrow. Breathing now....

srah - Monday, 14 January 2002 - 3:28 PM

Yay, comments are back

Yay, comments are back. Must now go find somewhere that takes passport-style pictures for teaching assistant application, which has to be mailed tomorrow. Crap crap crap....

srah - Sunday, 13 January 2002 - 11:28 AM

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