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The past five days

OKay here goes with the exciting adventures of Heather in France.

Last Wednesday night we went out to a pub, and I had a pretty bad time. This is mostly because I hate smoke (bound to be found in a pub) and I don't really drink all that much. There were a lot of other assistants there, almost all of them actually, so that part was fun. However, as usual, the table split itself in two and spoke german on one end and english on the other. I really want everyone to speakin french, so I can practice. Also, it would be good to not draw so much attention to ourselves all of the time. Eh. Dommage. (too bad)

Thursday night, I went to this meeting for young professionals - like a young adult group - that was sponsored by the church. It was long, difficult to understand, and generally I felt like I was much too young to be there. One interesting note however, is that many of the people there were about 25-30 years old and were just now working in their first jobs. So, I even found it hard to relate to them considering I was younger and had already had four different jobs and seven different bosses. Everyone was very nice though. One of the women there had been an English teacher at my high school last year, so it was nice to talk to her. Also, the group leader invited me out to dinner, because he had an interview in English (today actually) and he wanted to practice his speaking skills in advance. The priest kept checking up on me to see how I was doing, and the others would sometimes try to speak a sentence at a time because they were worried I wouldn't understand. I think the biggest problem was that I looked confused most of the time, even when I probably could have followed the conversation; but everyone kept talking at once! If you think it is difficult to understand in your mother tongue, just try to do it in your second language!

Friday night we met up with the assistants again. I didn't know what we were going to do, but when I got there, I found out we were again going to a bar. I was super bummed, because I had had such a horrible time the Wednesday before. However, all of the assistants were english speakers this time, and it wasn't so bad. Things that contributed to the coolness of Friday night: good intellectual conversation (taxes, politics, vacation plans, differing family styles and cultures from the three represented countries, etc.) and that only one of these assistants smoked, and he was polite enough to wait until we were all outside to smoke. Hurray for that. Plus; i tried this beer called Oubliette at the second bar we went to. I only had a sip, but it was by far the best beer I have ever tasted. The atmosphere was good, and I crashed when we got home around one a.m.

Saturday I slept in, until 9:30, because I really couldn't sleep much longer than that. I went downstairs and worked most of the morning away in the staff room creating lesson plans. Anna and I went for a walk in the afternoon. We stopped by the train station to get a schedule of trains for Anna, and so I could find out if there were trains that led out of the country. Turns out there aren't from this train station. I took her to the kebab place in Mézières and we closed the place down. (I mean that literally because everything seems to close freakishly early here on Saturdays.) Afterwards, we were super full and had to walk a half an hour home. We stopped at the grocery store (it is always better to go grocery shopping on a full stomach) and got some stuff for dinner, etc. Then we went home and I tried to watch the X-files, but it was in the liddle of an episode, and the X-files is difficult in English, so instead we watched Joan of Arcadia. It took some explaining to Anna about the random God characters, but the plot was shorter and less complicated. Then I talked to Dad and Grandmother on the phone, which, of course, I enjoyed. Then it was time to do laundry. In a bath tub. I don't think I've ever really had an experience quite like this before in my entire life. We managed to form these great big lakes on our bathroom floor too. That part was funny to me, but Anna is a neat freak and she was really upset by it. I had strung up some clothes line in the bathroom from the closet door to the shower frame so we would have someplace to dry our clothes. It turns out that no matter how much you wring out a pair of jeans, they like to leak all over the place!

Four hours later I was too exhausted to fry chicken, so we had microwave dinners and watched a french movie on television. It was relatively stupid. We spent most of the time disputing if one of the character was gay or not and who Jean-Baptiste was. As it turns out, he was the main male character, but even when he was present, they talked about him in the third person. Talk about strange. Afterwards, we watched a lot of Law and Order: Criminal Intent and Anna fell asleep. I stayed awake mostly because every 30 minutes I had to get up and alternate which pair of jeans I was putting on the radiator so they would dry a little faster. I finally got to bed about 1 a.m.

Sunday morning, I got up and went to church. I thought I was on time, but yet again, lass was at a different time. Ugh, it is so hard to figure out when they change the time each week! But afterwards I met up with some people I was familiar with and they invited me to dinner. Then, I went to find the guy who I was supposed to be practicing English with at dinner on Monday night, so we could work out where we were going to meet up. I found most of the people from Thursday night hanging around outside the church. They invited me to coffee, and I ran home to get Anna. We fixed up the clothing lines, rotating the remaining wet clothes closer to the windows where the sun was coming in and taking down the clothes line we had strung up in the hallway in case the man who lived at the end of the hall wanted to come home and walk safely down the hall while we were gone.

Coffee was nice (not that I had any) and Anna got to meet some new people. The group broke up after a bit, and we made plans to meet with Vincent (except I didn't know his name at the time) to go and see the Bayard parade (see Festival of Bayard). Then Anna and I took a walk to find someplace new to eat and get a weekly cinema guide. We wound up eating in the same place we usually do however, because the rest of the cafes had closed up by the time we got back from our walk. I had a vegetarian sandwich, and like in the movie The Whole Nine Yards there was much too much mayonaise on it. Ah, dommage encore. (again, too bad)

We left from the cafe for the parade, met Vincent (still didn't know his name), and walked around the parade for the next two and a half hours. We saw all of the other assistants during the parade too, which was good. Then, we walked home, stopping by a patisserie / boulangerie (pastry / bakery shop) so I could buy a cake to bring to dinner with me. I totally crashed when I hit the bed, and didn't get up until right before I had to leave for dinner.

Dinner was marvelous. Alice and Heug have a 10 month old named Martin, who is such a cutie. They also had another dinner guest, Eric, who works for an American car company here in France. He had a Ford breifcase! Anyway, we ate pasta and I had this really good Corsican wine. It was super thick, and the first white wine that didn't give me a headache. Afterwards, we had my cake, which we ate with white currant/gooseberry jelly. Talk about yum. They spent some time preparing their lessons for tonight, because they were goingto work with the teenagers from the parish this Tuesday about religions of the world. Also, they wanted to choose which translation of the Bible passage they wanted that they were going to use. Eric drove me home around 11p.m. I reviewed my lessons one more time before hitting the sack.

Monday was my first day of actually teaching classes. However, I am going to blog about hte first week of teaching later. However, after running about all Monday doing school stuff, getting some tourist information, and mailing Anna's postcards, I hurried upstairs to be on time for a phone call from home. Which never actually came. Then I left to meet Sebastien for dinner. He was 14 minutes late. One more minute, and I was seriously going to go home. But, he arrived, and we set off to find a restaurant to eat in. I let him choose because he knows way more about the restaurants here than I do. I had a salad with rotisserie type potatoes; thick sliced, soft bacon; and a poached egg on top. It was like a good southern breakfast with lettuce. I tried the wine (see Personal Thoughts) and afterwards we had dessert. Now the only time I have ever seen dessert set on fire is when Lorien burned the cookies in Davie and when we had baked Alaska on the cruise. So, you can imagine my surprise when they handed me my nougat ice cream and Sebastien a plate that they promptly set on fire! He had ordered something with a rum sauce, and they were burning off the alcohol first. I was so shocked, I couldn't stop saying how cool I thought it was. Sebastien offered to switch desserts, but I figured I could stick it out. His English was very good considering he hadn't studied it in years. We practiced for his interview all throughout dinner, and I definitely think he was ready. We'll see later this week I guess. Anyhow, he walked me home, I re-read my lessons again, and then went to sleep.

So, that is what has been going on for the past five days. Nothing too exciting and nothing too boring. Plenty of things to do though. Speaking of that, I had an idea the other night that I would really like some commentary on (if you manage to read this far down). When I was at home in the states, I always wanted a job that would pay me more to work less hours. Now, I have a job that pays me more and I work a third the hours, and I keep trying to find myself more things to do. I think the idea of working less is appealing until you actually are, then it becomes a hassle to find things to fill your day. I think that everyone would work just as much, whether they had to or not, because it is within the human spirit to work to the best of their ability. I wonder what the rest of you think about that. Awaiting your commentary, love always, ~Heather