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Showing posts from 2005

Google-land, Dublin

I got up at half past noon today and have therefore rectified my lack of sleep problem. I quickly showered and met Marco for lunch at his office. He works for Google. Let me tell you that if you are looking for an exciting job, this could be it. Fun looking and more relaxed than any workplace I have ever been to. The employees were all given the afternoon off today in respect to the upcoming new year - but they didn't announce it until after lunch. I think this is pretty cool considering, because it benefited the people who had sucked it up and come to work anyway instead of taking a half day. He gave me a tour of the building including a conference room and his floor.

There are little kitchens and game tables (ping pong, foosball, pool tables) on basically every floor. The walls are decorated with pictures of places all around the world and cut out designs of beaches, lady bugs, suns, and plants. There are bean bags on the floor every two rows of desks or so, and there are giant e…

Traveling Time Zones

I sit here in Marco's apartment happy to be on solid ground again. Let me tell you about the jouneyI took to get here. I got up Wednesday morning EST a little before nine. I did laundry and finished putting everything in my suitcase. Dad was enlisted to (voluntarily, and with great appreciation from a doting daughter) to scan in the pages from a wide variety of reference books I intend to use to apply for my internship at the National Air and Space Museum. I also burned a good amount of music into the music library on my computer so that I would have some more options when I got back to France. We left the house a little after three and my parents and brother took me to the airport for my 5:55 (17:55) flight to Philidelphia.

I arrived in PA with just enough time to transfer from one gate to another and take a little rest at the gate while they boarded the other zones of the aircraft. The 8:20 (20:20 (side note for Lorien: "I'm Walter Mathau and this is Jack Lemmon…


Christmas was an amazing adventure this year. I can't even begin to go into detail about everything that has gone on since I arrived home. Some highlights include: finishing Christmas shopping, wrapping presents, cleaning the kitchen after countless awesome meals, seeing tons of family (the Sweeney's, Ian, Grandmother, the NC Bensons, the Keiners, and of course my immediate family), and resting.

Tonight I started in on my research for the Smithsonian application and tomorrow I am going to try to wrap up all of the technological things I need to do and get out to a bookstore and buy a travel guide book for Europe. And a can of Lysol (the only thing on my list I didn't get this year), I am going to pick up that too.

Chances are I am never going to get around to telling you about everything, but I am going to post some pictures tomorrow after I have the computer issues worked out on my laptop. In the mean time - since most of you are on vacation and not reading this thing …

La reste

I had an amazing day yesterday. I walked straight through a protest to get to the Prefecture and got my Carte/Titre de sejour (this allows me to stay and work in the country after my visa expires tomorrow). I walked home stopping at the grocery store to buy the supplies to bake cookies with one of my classes. I had to go to the pharmacy to get the baking soda! We baked and had alot of fun in my classes. This week we are talking about Christmas, and I decided it was about time I actually taught these kids something useful.

We did an exercise on similies. "The Christmas tree was like ...", "The present was as ... as ...", etc. Then we sang Rudolph. But, they had to put in their own words for the echoes (go similies!). Then I taught them the real words (and as many variations as I could remember). I spent the evening chatting away with Alice after finishing up my second to last bit of Christmas shopping. I sent two emails in french, got a response from the S…

"Before the break"

WARNING: The following is a brief political discourse.

I hope they pass the anti-torture legislation before the break. I really think Americans should be held to a higher standard. There are arguments that the information gotten through "testimony" from tortured prisoners could protect the country from a future terrorist attack. Let me clear up right now that nothing is going to prevent another terrorist attack except perhaps the end of the world (which requires the coming of the anti-Christ and Jesus, so chances are there will still be some warring going on anyway). I don't see how we can say we are giving Iraq its freedom from oppression and persecution from its government when we pick up their citizens, remove them from the country, and then torture, oppress, and persecute them. Excellent logic. It might be time to revisit my idea of building an island in the middle of the Pacific and dumping all the criminals on it. Terrorists included. This gets us out of hav…

Being Adventureous

Things to not get upset about today: The fact that you have been working to put together a showing of It's a Wonderful Life in English with subtitles in French for three weeks (technological confusion, logistics, time for advertising, etc) and not a single person showed up. Not a teacher, a student, another assistant, a staff member of the school - just you and the same 16 minutes and 20 seconds of Christmas music you have had saved on your computer for close to 5 years now. Talk about overinflating a balloon and letting it go without tying it.

The truth is, I was pretty sure there wouldn't be alot of people there, but NO ONE was a surprise I could have lived without. I have plenty of other things to do with my afternoon - shopping for presents, deciphering a cryptic letter, going to Sedan with Alice, buying the ingredients to bake cookies tomorrow, volleyball practice tonight, and getting myself organized to go to the Prefecture tomorrow (like getting my visa this summer, …


I propose that one day I should become smart. In the meantime, I am just going to continue filling out applications to graduate school, fellowship and internship opportunities (Smithsonian, Society for Conservation of America, AEI with Newt Gingrich, etc.), and praying that somewhere along the line I actually have the strength of character and mind to choose what I am going to do for the rest of my life.

Seriously though, I am going to post my proposal for my fellowship application after Dad corrects it and any comments would be greatly appreciated. Love ya, ~Heather

Editted by Dad (I changed two words to other synonyms after editting - can you spot which ones???)

My current plan is to outline the societal influences on NASA before thespace race with a focus on the social and cultural consequences of humanspace exploration, specifically in regard to film. My general theory is that NASA and cinema has a symbiotic relationship. Prior to the Mercury missions, the media, movies, and politic…

You deserve an update

You deserve an update on everything I have been doing. So, here goes.

Friday I taught class all afternoon after my visit to the doctor. Then I went to Alice and Hugues to watch the baby for a little while. Alice was super tired, so I stayed awhile longer to give Martin his bath and feed him dinner. Then Hugues drove me to the Taizé prayer and song event I was supposed to go to with Eric. I stayed there for a bit, sang, prayed, watched other people drink coffee and tea, sorted music into alphabetical order, and then Eric drove a bunch of us home. Friday night I watched the third Harry Potter, because I had been teaching about Harry Potter all week and had it on my brain.

After having some disturbing dreams about being a rat (perhaps Scabbers?) and being electrically shocked (actually woke up in fright), I rested tranquilly until a little after nine on Saturday morning. I got up, ate a good breakfast, made plans for the evening and then headed out to do some Christmas shopping. It…

Things to Do

Today I need to:

Tell you about this weekend
Stop procrastinating
Send off an email to the Smithsonian
Get American, Georgetown, and Regent to send application packets to the house
Teach at 4
Find something to do for tonight
Make a fork costume (I will explain later)
Get a ride to the store tomorrow so I can buy supplies to bake cookies
Get the recipes from Mom on how to make the cookies from scratch
Prepare more lessons
Reply to two emails
Stop thinking about nonsense
Get a train schedule for this weekend
Add "where" to the poster I hung in the hall
Hang the World AIDS Day flyers in the English hallway
Upload pictures on to the internet
Get Travis' Christmas present

For someone who is looking for something to do tonight, I think I could probably occupy myself with finishing my own to do list! A little busy. Hugs and kisses, ~Heather

Going to the Doctor

If anyone claims the following is not worthy of the title "adventure," I challenge you to an appointment - in french.

Last night at 0:51 I remembered I had an immigration medical exam this morning at nine. Well, at least I remembered. Anyway, I got up, told the office I might be late for my 11 o'clock class and headed to the office. They explained I would have an x-ray and an eye-exam, as long as I wasn't pregnant. Good news for everyone back home, I took both.

All of the assistants had their appointments at basically the same time, so I got to see everyone. I scored 10/10 vision and got sent back to the waiting room. Then I put on my jacket and walked around the corner to the hospital for a chest x-ray. Apparently, x-ray machines in France have not reached the technological level of those in the rest of the world, and I was required to do this bit sans clothes. I was less than thrilled. The results came back about 2 minutes after I had gotten dressed again. …


I have all sorts of ideas of things to do and places to go and other exciting experiences I want to have. I have finally made plans to do some of them and my own adventureousness (sp?) frightens me. This weekend I am going to Strasbourg in the extreme northeast of France. They have a fabulous Christmas market. The one we have in town has an ice skating rink and outdoor tables and food and all sorts of marvelous things, but this is supposed to be the best one in France. Going to Germany would be the BEST option, but my lack of language skills in that country frightens me.

For the New Year I am going to go to Dublin, which adds a country to my very slack list of places visited. And, over the course of this afternoon I am going to try to start planning my February vacation and hopefulyl have an opportunity to visit Malise.

I found out yesterday that you can buy an around the world airline ticket ... I am so excited but terribly scared at the same time. For now, I am going to face a …

Peanuts (the cartoon this time)

You are Rerun!

Which Peanuts Character are You?

I do not remember who this character is. But it makes me kind of wonder about how people get the accuracy right on these quizzes they make up. It is like horoscopes I guess, where it is only true because it is so general it could fit anyone. However, it truly makes me wonder. Do I have charm? And if so do I use it to mask my cleverness? And by the way, I think only strangers look over my talents. Everyone else is so nice. Yeah you. Wait, that makes this thing only 50% accurate. I am detracting from my own point. End of digression.

Also, last night while doing Harry Potter research on JK Rowlings website - actually was doing stuff for work, though it is probably hard to believe - I found another interesting thing. The wands for Harry, Hermione, and Ron are all made of the wood that according to the Celtic tree calendar is from the month they were born in. So I used this Celtic tree calendar and my wood should be a willow. Let me tell yo…

Christmas Lists

In my family we have many traditions involving Christmas. One of these is that the "Official Christmas List" is due to Mom and Dad by Thanksgiving. At least one of us fails to do this every year, and so far the threat of no presents has yet to be acted upon. Thank goodness. When we were very young, my parents would send the list off to the North Pole for us (I really hope they kept some, I'd love to read them now). When we got older, they were hung in the kitchen somewhere so we would know what to get each other. Then one year we had the infamous "camera incident" and the basic list plan didn't really work as well. Now we have to check and double check with each other to make sure no one gets someone something that the other people already got them. I know this whole process seems to take the fun out of giving gifts at Christmas, but when you consider that people notoriously ask for things like kitchen appliances, deoderant, scissors, and/or cleanin…


Dear Mom and Dad,
Orbitz did not contact me today. I would have sent you an email about it, but the teachers still have not finished putting their freaking grades in the computers, and I can't get on the one that allows me to send email. I was able to send some email this afternoon, but I wanted to wait until tonight to see if Orbitz contacted me. Because I can't check, I'll assume they didn't. Love, ~Heather

For everyone else: Orbitz is a super sucky company and you really shouldn't use their services. In their infinite wisdom, they have extended my trip to almost a day's worth of travelling, which is, I believe, highly unaceptable considering I bought the tickets in September and it was only going to be about 12 hours then. Luckily though, I have an uber-cool Dad who is going to give that company "a good talking to." Gotta love the dad-meister.

Today was a really practically accomplished day. I got up at a reasonable hour and had time to read a little …

"One short day"

(Sing title to the appropriate tune in the Wicked soundtrack.)

Today I started teaching about AIDS again, and I finished teaching about Harry Potter. I love Harry Potter. I don't think I can really begin to describe it. One thing you might be interested to learn is that Voldemort is a play on words that translates to "Fly from death" in french. I don't think it made alot of sense from the beginning of the series, but considering the Horcruxes revealed in the 6th book, well, you know. Anyway, I can't wait to come home and watch it with you Dad.

Last night at the prayer meeting I really enjoyed myself. I still do not know the story of Ester, which really bugs me, because I keep getting the beginning and missing the end (last night I just didn't understand the end, which I suppose is slightly different). But, there were about thirty people there praying for everyone's intentions, including for Aunt Yolanda. I bet she never thought that people all aroun…

Peanuts and Rasperry Lemonade

17:21 December 1, 2005

Peanuts and Raspberry-Lemonade. Absolutely loving it. In some ways, being forced to type the blog in my room has its distinct advantages; like eating and listening to music while typing. Also, by the way, hurray for Christmas music. Okay, so about today.

Today I slept in because I was exhausted from yesterday. After I was done writing I went and made Christmas cards and cookies for our youth group sale on Saturday. That took close to three hours. I came home and ate dinner then took off for volleyball. I was unable to post yesterday evening, because the Internet had magnificently shut itself off again. (The tech guy was absent again today – that makes 4 days this week, I wonder if he is taking the entire week off. I mean, I hope the guy isn’t sick or anything, but for all three computer guys to be inaccessible during the same week seems seriously unreasonable. Anyway. Practice was good and the mean coach wasn’t there. However, I really don’t like playing with the …

It's a Long One

I am warning you in advance that this is a long entry. Good luck. Special Note: It is now Dec.1 at 11:34. Crazy how long it took to find a working computer.

13:17 November 30, 2005
So here I am in my room, listening to Les Miserables (while the actual book sits behind the computer screen) and writing the blog that I haven’t even had enough time to think about the past few weeks. Sorry about that by the way. I have honestly wanted to write the past two weeks, but it hasn’t really been feasible. Here is my explanation:

The administration of the school has decided to become more technologically oriented. This would usually be a good thing, but they didn’t have enough pre-planning to realize they would have to teach the older teachers how to use the technology. So all of the professors have to put their grades in the computer. There are about 50 teachers and three computers with the program on it. They didn’t have the program until two weeks ago and grades are due on Friday. In France, yo…

Paris for the weekend

I went to Paris for the weekend. It was incredible. It snowed, I got to go to an open-air fish market, a cheese shop, a bakery with marvelous pastries and such. It was just amazing. One of the coolest things about the trip happened in the train station before I left though. I was stnading in line and actually got to participate in the banter as we waited for the slowest cashiers of all time!!! I don't have alot of time, and I'll explain that later. But I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has been incredibly nice and sent me messages for Thanksgiving. I'll tell you more about that later too. Really, I never thought it could be so cool. Off for now. Hugs and kisses, ~Heather

A Note on the Catholic News

I usually reserve this space for stories about my adventures, but I am about to jump out and make some possibly politically, and definitely religiously, incorrect statements regarding the article I just read on (

I think that this is really ridiculous. I understand that there are certain moral values that belong in the church. However, I don't understand why a "don't ask, don't tell" policy wouldn't be appropriate. I think I am split on the issue, but I think it is time the church took steps into understanding the science of the issue. There was a time in the past when priests and other religious figures were the smartest people in the land. They relied on scientific instruments, they were astronomers, farmers, artists, chemists, scribes - you name it, you got it. Now, the entire religion seems to have turned its back on science.

Through a number of studies, there is sig…


So my slackness has gotten me nowhere except figuring out what to do about New Years. Otherwise, I am still planless for the evening. Though I did make two new friends, which I think is gratiying in it of itself. Because Anna isn't here, I ate with the Vie Scolaire people. They are about my age and totally cool. Very similar to how I think we were as an RA staff two years ago - together alot, but clique-y, etc. Anyway, they were awesome and said I could go to EuroDisney with them, or Belgium, or Luxembourg, or whatever, but just to ask, because they both had cars and lived in Charleville, so it was totally not a big deal to bring me along. Also, they are doing what I did in college for three years, except they look over high schoolers. So, we have plenty to talk about. This is going to sound horrible, but I don't really mind when Anna is away anymore, because I think it forces me to go and try things I usually wouldn't. I have made two friends and two acquaintain…

What a day

Today has been amazingly long. I was up at 8:30 due to my body clock only allowing me 7.5 hours of sleep each night. So, I went to the teacher's lounge and made invitations to the Thanksgiving supper I am cooking next week. I feel super bad about not being able to have everyone come and try at least a little food, but I know it isn't practical to attempt to cook for more than 15 people. Heck, fifteen might kill me. Okay, so after that, I ran back upstairs to get something (really don't remember what) and then off to teach my first class of the day.

Today's class was the best I've had yet. Their level of English was significantly lower than most of the rest of my classes, but they honestly wanted to learn, and put effort into asking me questions in return. Class today turned into a 1/2 hour discussion about why it was safe to live in the US and the reasons why terrorists target certain places. The students said that with shark attacks, hurricanes, tornados, te…

Beaujolais Noveau

This isn't the weird translation of something you know, it is the name of today's holiday. Talk about a weird holiday. The entire oliday is commercial, because it is based on the yearly release of a bottle of wine. This one vinyard makes wine out of the same years harvest and sends it out to the general public for consumption. (In the wine world, this is a major faux pas. They say it tastes like California wine!) Anyway, there was this party with charcuterie (fancy name for different types of cold cut style meats and sausages) and bread (duh!). However, there was this huge loaf of bread, seriously 1x2.5 feet in the shape of a wine bottle with a fake label baked on and everything. So cute. And there was another loaf baked in the shape of an alligator. I was really sad I didn't have a camera with me. But, anyway, the whole point of the holiday is to enjoy each other's compay while drinking really bad wine (by french standards) and eating meat and bread. so fu…

One Full Tuesday

Tuesday is an interesting day usually. This is because it often follows Monday and precedes Wednesday. Today Tuesday is especially interesting because there are/were alot of things to do. **Special note for those who think "alot" is not actually a word: it is. Check the dictionary if you don't believe me.** Okay, I really meant all of that jokingly, but it looks kind of like it might have come out wrong. Ah, sorry if it did. Anyway. I had lessons this morning, then I prepped for more lessons. Broke one of the two photocopiers (not actually my fault), and then foiund out the other was broken. Had lunch, had another lesson (only 1/2 the class was there). Now I am quick timing through emails etc before tutoring a friend in English and then grocery shopping. Followed by dinner and Youth Group. Followed by planning tomorrow's lessons. Sometimes being an over acheiver gives you more work then you anticipated. Gotta run. Details later. Promise. Hugs, ~Heathe…

Quick Notes

Well, I am heading out of town for the weekend. I am going to a retreat with a choir called the Champagnules. They are named for the Champagne region that is directly south of where I live. It should be really exciting and a great opportunity to function only in french for an entire weekend. I promise details when I get back. In the meantime, I wanted to toss out some quick new:
Classes are going really well!
Armistice Day is tomorrow, so I have no classes (hence the ability to go on retreat).
I have finally posted pictures on the internet of some of the trips I have taken at
My students were much more involved in the lessons today, so I am in a really good mood.
I am going to get to celebrate Thanksgiving here (more details later).
I finally bought postcards and wrote some letters, so if you have sent me your address, you will probably be getting one! (If you …

The Riots

Like you, I have been following the rioting in Paris pretty actively. The good news is, that the curfews set out by the state seemed to have curbed some of the violence and burning. The bad news is, it isn't over yet. The spread of burnings has not reached my region yet - and is bound not to. I live in a very agricultural part of the country. It would be like riots in Chicago effecting the people in southern Illinois - not bound to happen. It has moved to other cities around the country, and there have been isolated incidents in Brussels and Berlin as well.

Most of the unrest stems from unemployment, which anyone could tell you is a major problem here. The second problem comes from the first generation Muslims. Do you remember (the answer will be no unless you read about it, because you are all pretty much too young) what New York city was like in the early 1900's? Alot of unemployment, or people unable to get jobs because their name was too European, etc? That is ba…

The Goings On

My life has been surprisingly full the past three days.
Wednesday I organized the hundreds of pictures from my digital camera and the ones on my computer. In the afternoon, I went out and did some shopping for postcards and groceries. I also stopped by the bank because they hadn't mailed me my checkbook, and it had been a month. The nice man there showed me how to write out a check in french. Surprisingly different. Then I filled my backpack with groceries, and home I went. I grilled (really I think it is alot more like broiling) a small steak for dinner (about the size of a porkchop) with a salad and a new type of cheese called compte. So good. Then it was time for volleyball. When I got home, Anna and I exchanged our weekend adventure stories and then it was off to bed.

Yesterday I had classes after lunch (my NyQuil had basically had me out cold until 10:30, so the morning didn't exist entirely), then I hung out on the computer for awhile. Evening time brought a mee…

"Special" Classroom Moments

So I recently have gotten a few "hints" that I am not telling you guys enough about how the actual teaching is going. Please do not take the following as examples of what happens all the time - but it should be noted that the following are true stories. Laugh to your hearts content.

I let the students choose songs to bring in and listen to in class. They had to bring the lyrics with them, and I said I would go over the vocabulary or idiomatic expressions they didn't understand with them. Things that are bad: that idea. No, in all seriousness, it was a great idea, but get ready for the good part. The first class brough mostly rap and pop with them. I had to explain lyrics from a song that described a decently explicit sex scene. Someone else brought the new Gwen Stefani music ... if you don't know her music, let's just say she uses alot of ghetto terminology. It also included the phrase "I'll meet you at the bleachers, there's no teachers.&quo…

Time change

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to exist in a totally different plane of existance, where, say, you had very little concept of time??
I no longer have to wonder, I know - I don't want to be there. Last night, after a very cool concert on the other side of town, Anna and I spent 45 minutes trying to figure out if the clocks were going to change in France today in respect to Daylight Savings Time. And, alas, it did. However, as Anna so graciously put it, "It doesn't matter if we gain an hour of sleep, because I'll have lost it trying to figure out if it exists!" This was sadly true. The good news now is, that I think I am only 5 hours apart from US time due to President Bush deciding he had the right to fiddle with TIME - a worldwide phenomena. One second, let me check CNN online and find out what time it is in the US .... (please hold while Heather searches...)
As it turns out (many minutes later), Daylight Saving Time (note the lack of "S&qu…

Wandering mind ...

So I have been sitting here NOT doing my research for next week's lessons. I have been reading other people's blogs, and adding friends at MySpace, checking in on Facebook, and otherwise lolly-gagging about on the internet. But now I'm hungry and need to go upstairs to get some lunch, and have still accomplished almost nothing so far today. I think that it is really some sort of record, how much nothing I have been able to do.
I don't even know what I have been thinking about! At first, I was just so excited, because I was getting to see all the pictures from Little Michael's wedding. Then I realized I never even called to congratulate him. And I haven't really written any postcards or letters that weren't on the internet (although I did finally buy some stamps). Ugh. This is more evidence of me doing nothing. Tonight there is this gig at a local bar. I think if I go back to my room and rest, read, or doing something quiet for a bit, I should be be…


Yesterday, Anna and I went to Sedan. Sedan is this relatively small town about 30 minutes away by train with Europe's largest château in it. The place was huge (duh, hence why it was famous). It had been built up in 6 stages beginning back in the 1300's, I think. We got audioguides and wandered around. The tour takes you through the guard rooms mostly, and then a bit of outside. I took a ton of pictures, which I promise to upload later this weekend. The coolest part was how they described building the ramparts. (You should know that word from the National Anthem, but in case you never knew what it meant.... Ramparts are wall fortifications that were added to castles and forts after the cannonball started being made out of harder metals, because the old walls couldn't handle the pressure. It was a type of cement called, wait for it ... rampart, that they added between the layers of stone.) In the case of this particular château, the walls had increased from 14 to 26 feet th…

And so it begins...

This is the beginning of my first real week of adventures. I thought I had already told you all about the jazz soiree in Givet, and taking the train on Saturday with the random french youth, and getting a train pass, and doing laundry at the laundromat, and having dinner with Anna's family until midnight, going to church, eating a three hour long Sunday lunch, reading and hanging out in the afternoon, watching Il était une fois with Constance and the sausage meatloaf escapade. I knew I hadn't told you about watching Spiderman in french with the crazy man (turns out his name is Laurent Herr), drinking wine out of a giant coffee mug, getting up and reading, breakfast in bed, and then lunch with the Dominguez family; but to tell you the truth I just don't have the energy for a long blog at the moment. Also, I promised the smaller girls next door they could come over and watch a movie (if any of mine translate to french).

So, the beginning of my decline in writing has begun.…

Already Friday

It is already Friday. Sometimes time goes so slow and sometimes it just flies by. This week had a little of both. Let's jump backwards to Tuesday evening.

Tuesday evening I went to the Youth Group at church. It was nice to be able to talk about God for a bit (we read Mark). But we also sang some churchy songs (LOVE singing), and we eat and chat together in fellowship too, which is really cool. I have about 5-6 years on most of the young people in the group, and at least 5-6 years less than the group leaders, but I feel right at home because they are A: welcoming and B: my french isn't really good enough to comprehend a more somber group. Teenagers here are basically the only ones that speak with intonation and emotion, they use their hands, and they mostly talk about school and friends, so I know more of the vocabulary. I got to take home some of the apple tart (their version of apple pie, except it has no top, and they slice the apples in round bits first and lie them in a spi…