Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Being Productive

I spent today online (when I wasn't teaching) either preparing lessons, checking email, looking for a summer internship, or attempting to connect my laptop to the school system (it is almost grade time again, and I want to have a chance at getting on the internet).

In just a minute, I am going upstairs to try and make peanut butter cookies from scratch with the remains (basically everything but the first sandwich's worth) of the peanut butter I bought earlier this year. I figure, if I am not going to throw it away or eat it, I might as well use it to make something I like. I am going to try to make brownies tomorrow. If there is anyone who happens to know how much a "square" of unsweetened chocolate is, I would appreciate it. Also, if anyone knows what shortening is, and what I can possibly use as a substitute.

Tonight I have badminton and the youth group. When I get back, I am going to be preparing for my morning lessons and cleaning up the inevitable cooking mess in my room. Tomorrow should be a relatively full day too. I am trying to stay busy and productive. I just cannot bear the thought of getting too used to all this free time. At Grandmother's suggestion, I might even take up knitting (this would also bolster my scarf collection at a minimal cost). OKay, so I'm seriously off. But I hope you are being productive too. Take time to relax, but never let your mind go idle. Your brain should not be like your Instant Messenger after 20 minutes. Gotta run!
Love always, ~Heather

Monday, January 30, 2006

France Telecom

Please let me express my complete distaste for France Telecom, the monopolistic piece of crap company responsible for all of the land lines in France. The phone I bought from them broke. There it was, on the wall, and then it stopped dialing out. So, I decided this would be a good time to return the phone. In the meantime, I used another phone.

*The assistants from last year left us a phone, but the man who had it forgot to give it to us until after we had already bought our own. (Same as the toilet water man) We have been using the one we should have been using all along.*

I got there just as they were opening for the afternoon. I explained to the woman that the phone didn't work and I asked if it was possible to exchange it or get a reimbursement. She wanted to test the phone first and make sure it didn't work. Which it didn't. Then, in her infinite wisdom she went in search of another phone. I had asked for a reimbursement. I should note that word reimbursement is the same in french, so I really wasn't screwing it up.

When she got back I explained I didn't want a new phone right now - I just wanted my reimbursement. She took the original purchase receipt, said she understood, and went in the back to make a photocopy. Excellent! I'm on my way to my 19.90€ back for the freaking broken phone. Right up until the woman put the phone she had found in the back (not even the same color I should note) and handed it to me. I said I didn't want a phone, but the money the phone was worth - and perhaps I would come back later with my roommate to buy a different phone.

She handed me the bag and said, "Bonne Journée." Before turning to the next customer. I should clear up the fact that I was feeling a little misunderstood at this point. But more than that, I was pretty angry. It is never a good idea to have me talk to someone upset, so I left. With the new phone. I was angry because I know I had asked the right questions. I knew I was using the right words. My french is much improved, and they shouldn't be able to push me around because they are imbeciles and I have an accent. I am going back. But not right now, because I don't want to kill anyone.

Love to all of you, (I'll keep you updated) ~Heather

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Walks, Nutella, & Apt.Hunting

So, I have spent this weekend doing all sorts of randomness. I deservedly slept in Saturday. Then I went for a walk stopping at all 5-6 car rental agencies to find one for when Caroline is here. Then, I finished up my communications Personal Statement and sent it to Dad (thanks Dad for the corrections). While I was waiting for him to send it back, I did some work looking up places for Caroline and I to visit while she is here. I am excited to really have a travel buddy! Also, I should note that Caroline turned 22 yesterday, so congratulations to her!

Saturday afternoon I didn't actually make the walk I was going to take (the sun went down, and my friend had a cold and didn't want to walk because it gets too cold). Instead I cleaned my room and tested the electricity in the bathroom. That sounds strange, I am sure, but it is an old system, and needs to be checked once a month. Then I swept my room, took a shower and started getting ready to go out. I had an actual date - yeah me. We had some pizza and then wathced a movie at my place afterwards. He left before midnight and I got to hit the sack early so I would be refreshed for church this morning.

Unbenounced to me, there was First Communion this morning. You wouldn't really know it by the number of children wearing jeans and outdoor coats - but about 30 of them received a major sacrament today. It was quite sweet. Afterwards, I hung out with some of the Young Professionals group and then headed home. One tuna and noodles lunch later, I watched Rudy and then headed to Alice's.

Because Martin was asleep, we watched a downloaded old, balck and white episode of the Little Rascals. Seriously, why is comedy like that not made anymore? As soon as the babe was awake, we headed out for a walk in the park. It was absolutely gorgeous today. This was only made better by fabulous conversation with the person who is quickly becoming a really good friend. It astounds me that Alice and I are so different (age, place in life, personality, etc.) and yet so completely compatible.

I hung out with them for awhile longer and then headed home. I was about to fix dinner and Lahcen came by (guy from last night). We took a short trip around town and then he watched me cook dinner and tried to explain french computer vocabulary to me. This didn't go so well actually, because it turns out they don't really discern between hardware and software here. They have a word for software, but not for hardware - and you know computer savvy me was able to explain EXACTLY the difference to him - in french. (Dripping sarcasm.) He took off and I had a hamburger patty with cheese followed by chips and salsa and then an apple with Nutella. I should note that nutella is actually way better on starchy objects and is in no way a substitute for peanut butter (though I try).

Now, I am writing in here while simultaneously chatting away with my mother. I fully intend to look up some more information on the trip I will be taking with Caroline soon so I can read it upstairs in a bit. And, besides that, I have no real plans for the evening. As I have tomorrow off (I have all Mondays off from teaching - though I do have my business lunches), I might try to catch up on my reading, start filling out my FAFSA forms (yes collegians, it is that time again), and applying for one month internships. Also - total bummer - and old friend from high school isn't actually going to be in DC next year, so we can't live together. This means I also need to begin scouring the city for an apartment. I have only a few demands, but one of them is for sure going to make the price rise - I want to live within walking distance of a Metro station, so i don't have to drive my car in the city. That, and finding a place where I can park my car in the city is going to be stellar. Those things, plus air conditioning, an actual kitchen, laundry facilities in walking distance, and rent that isn't going to force me to take on more than one part-time job ... yeah, I am going to start looking now.

Alright, this is quite long enough. Hope the rest of you had good weekends too and I'll talk to you soon. Love always, ~Heather

Friday, January 27, 2006

Re"merci"ments

I read this from a link I got off Paula's blog. It is a particularly poignant at the moment as my father is at the doctor's having tests done, my sister had the worst day yesterday, my mom has an MRI this afternoon, and my brother told me he was too busy to tell me all the things that were making him feel rotten. I want to be able to support them and take care of them so much. I really want to be there. I hope they realize, like I do, that nothing can ever really take me away from them.

**Special Note: Thank you Mom and Dad for bringing me home for Christmas, it would have been really difficult without you!**

Like the author said, I thank you - all of you. My friends, my family, anyone who has cared enough to read this. I don't imagine my absense is a burden on many (or any) of you, but know that I feel the little spaces in my heart that are only filled in your presence. I will try to make the best of this opportunity so that we can all share in the rewards when we are together again!

Time for dinner on this end. Gotta run. Hugs and kisses, ~Heather

Puppet Show

Last night I went to the International Puppet Institute and saw a student puppet show. They all used hand puppets to do two "person" scenes. It was marvelous. I have never really been impressed by puppetry, but these kids were awesome. Kids meaning first year university age students. One of the little skits was in English. Performed without accent and using slang - I was thoroughly impressed. Not just by the language, but by the intricacies of the movement the puppeteer managed. I paid her these compliments afterwards, and found out she was from Bulgaria! I think it is wonderful. Many of them had the same themes, but I have never seen anything so detailed and specific before. They were very precise and extremely articulate for being behind a curtain. So, all in all, I was impressed. I went with Gladys (German stagière) and Sonia (the Spanish prof I play volleyball with). It is really too bad i couln't take pictures of any of it. But, take my word for it, I think if you are ever in Charleville, stopping in to see a show would definitely be worth your while!
Talk to you soon, Love, ~Heather

Thursday, January 26, 2006

March for Life?

To all those who participated in the DC or local demonstrations of March for Life I want to say first, that I think that what you guys did is awesome.

However, I have a few questions/comments. When you have a rally that big, what exactly are the anticipated results? The government knows there are tons of people who are pro-life, and their opinion isn't bound to be changed by people blocking off all traffic in the city and marching around with posters. So, I guess I sympathize and am truly excited that everyone there was so dedicated and involved, but I just don't see the point.

Additionally, I am a little confused by people who want to make a law saying that women can't have abortions. The reason I am against the LAW (note: not the idea) is that I don't want the government regulating my body. What if the government were to say that certain types of surgery were forbidden. Like, if you needed surgery, but the risk the surgery presented was greater than the chance of survival. Let's say, just hypothetically, that the government made illegal all medical procedures that only had a 25% or less survival rate. I think that the 25% of possible survivors would be pretty upset. Oh yeah, and also DEAD.

If the medical community gets together and decides on a certain stage in pregnancy and says that after this point, it is a human being and has the right to life and THEN the government makes everything after that illegal abortions - cool. However, if the fetus has a 0% survival rate without staying inside the mother, then I think the mother should have the legal right to do what she wants. Personally, I think that baby is alive from the moment of conception, but let's look at it logically here folks - it just doesn't make sense to force someone to be a mother who doesn't want to be. And, by the way, adoption will never give you back the nine months of your life being pregnant took. (If you think nine months is a short period of time to worry about, consider those cancer patients who only have nine months to live - I think they will tell you every minute counts.)

Next, I think we should discuss why the government should not make laws that only have a basis in religion. We have freedom of speech. We have freedom of religion. We have freedom of a whole lot of things (stuff I never really even thought about until I came here and noticed the rest of the world doesn't have it). Why would we impose a religious belief on the rest of the country? If the largest portion of the population were atheists, we wouldn't want them saying that voluntarily saying grace before lunch in the school cafeteria with your other Christian friends was illegal. We would want that option. If the country was predominantly Islamic, we wouldn't want women to be forced to wear full body coverage clothing to go out in public, would we? If the country were predominantly Jewish, we wouldn't want people saying you HAD to have your son circumsized, would you? What if they were believers in the Flying Spaghetti Monster (read about this if you have some time and are also concerned about intelligent design being taught in the classroom) and the new government said everyone had to have Friday's off? What if you couldn't sell cheeseburgers because it wasn't koscher? What if you couldn't drive because you were a woman? What if you were only allowed to have one child because the government couldn't control the population? What if you weren't allowed to be free?

These are the things I fear when people try to make laws about things that aren't theirs to regulate. In the Bible, Jesus said, "Give unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's and unto God what is God's." If people want to have an abortion, nothing is going to stop them. Not laws, not guidelines, not mandatory parental permission forms. On this earth, in our country, let them do as they please. Help them make better decisions. Pray for their hearts and souls. Don't try to get people into heaven by making it illegal to sin. According to the Catholic Church we were already born with sin anyway. Nothing is going to stop a sinner.

The March for Life is, in principle, a fabulous demonstration of the power of the pro-life public. Use every freedom given power you have to try to take guns out of the hands of people who don't know how to use them, change what is taught in schools to a balanced curriculum - not taught to a test, help regulate violence on television, spend time with your own children, become acquainted with other cultures - do anything you can to make yourself a better, smarter, more informed person. Teach your children to do the same. Then let them make the right decisions for themselves. Give them the right to have a choice. Let the government give us a choice. And pray that people make the choice of life.

Love always, ~Heather

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Temper

I think the most difficult adventure I have had so far began this week. For some reason, it seems like everyone has been talking to me about general prcess in France. And controlling my temper when they talk about the stuff that goes on in this country ... I don't know how they live here. And then I remember they have been brainwashed. If you thought communism only existed in China nowadays, you were sadly mistaken. They might call it socialism, but it just isn't. If it was, people wouldn't be suffering. I think socialism can only really happen in heaven. Keeping that in mind - these people need to remember that they themselves claimed liberty.

Their motto is: "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity."

They have forgotten all but the fraternity, and they are even managing to screw that up.
*Note to Marco: I feel like I am stepping into Ayn Rand's world of "People's Republics."*

Because I do not feel like getting upset about it again today, I leave you with these quotes (that I remember but have no idea who said):

"Injustice for one is injustice for all."

"Never underestimate the power of a few dedicated citizens."

I'm off to control my temper. Love always, ~Heather

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Weekend Update + Religion

Hello loyal readers (or first timers, whomever)!
Here is the rundown:

Friday, I did laundry at Alice's after teaching all day. Watched Martin for a little while - and he is finally walking! It is so cute! Then, because I couldn't find anyone to go to the storytelling thing with me, I stayed in and watched movies and Will and Grace. I also read some Kate Chopin. Pretty cool stuff. I also managed to blow the fus in my room because I was cooking chicken in the oven and rice in the microwave at the same time. Oops. But, in the end, the well-mushroomed chicken marsala and rice tasted delicious.

Saturday, I got up and went to Hélène's to take care of her son Etienne for a little while. I had lunch with her family afterwards as payment. I love getting paid in good food! Then I went to a bookstore and got a whole book of Sudoko math puzzles. (More on this later.) I went to the grocery store and bought apples to make pie, a yam, and some canned green beans = 3.37€. Go me-thrifty. I did puzzles and then attempted to make the pie. I realized too late I didn't have a premade top, just a bottom. So I attempted to make the top myself.

*Since Grandmother taught me to make pie topping when I was 16 I have called and gotten the recipe like 5 times. I still do not have it memorized.*

I mixed a cup of sugar, a cup of flour and an egg. As it turns out, that isn't right - but it didn't taste all that bad.

As soon as the pie was done I had to bolt (managing one other puzzle during the baking) because we had a volleyball game. For those of you who have been following, it should come as no surprise that we lost again. I - I have no words for this. Afterwards, people ate my pie (and other desserts), with a teammate bringing the remnants home (so I know it wasn't terrible). I went home and had a tangerine (which with the chips and salsa before the game = dinner) and did more of those addicting puzzles and watched some West Wing. I also finished all the dishes and took the laundry off the line AND put it away. (Mom can tell you the AWAY is the achievement there.)

This morning, Sunday, I got up and went to church. Afterwards, I bought a baguette and then headed home. Puzzles, reading, lunching, internet usage, IMing friends pretty much took up the afternoon. That and mopping.

Typically, it is not my responsibility to mop the hallways outside - just my room and the bathroom. However, on Friday, the man at the end of the hall was fixing toilets in the girls dormitory when one exploded. He came home and very nicely, wiped his "blank-blank" shoes on the doormat I put in the hallway. Today, I could no longer stand the stench of the toilet water, etc he had dripped in the hall and on the rug. I knocked on his door and asked him if I could please wash the rug and the mop cloth - then proceeded to bleach mop my room, the bathroom, the hall, and a fabulous puddle of who-knows-what that was on the landing. It smells significantly nicer now. The best part is, he didn't know why the hallway smelled. He was maybe too drunk to remember?? He is the one who told me the story Friday night when he showed me the fuse box. Anyway, the best part. As I am throwing the nastiness in the washer, he asked if I knew that someone else usually should mop the hall. In my politest manner, I tried to explain that the stench (See: Labyrinth the bog of the eternal stench) was just not something I could live with. And then he laughed at me. I promptly left.

So, that is my day in a nutshell. Now, I am going to add the following excerpt from my IM conversations today for your consideration. Feel free to stop reading here if religion isn't of interest to you.

While talking to Peter about...
The disciples
CurlyTop83: I wonder if they knew when the decided to follow Jesus that their whole lives were going to change, and probably end really early?
Magic PeteTree: i don't know
Magic PeteTree: but i bet you it beats catching fish for a life

Christianity

CurlyTop83: Peter, why are you a christian?
Magic PeteTree: To find truth in this world, being a christian to me is not simply the name or the title... one has to search for meaning in life, as in Why are we here... what does it mean to truly be living... and deep down to discover one's soul... The part of a person that has no physical shape, that does not exist in time or space that just is. It is a journey and it gives me purpose. As for christian as opposed to any other religion, if you look at jeudism and Islam, both are very admirable in a search for meaning, but what is intriguing, is the concept that God would become man and so let himself be scorned as to die on a cross. I think that is why Peter denied Christ. he just simply couldn't believe that God would be so humble and allow Himself to be crucified... not necessarily because it would mean his own death. Christianity has that missing element which is so intriguing and makes it so hard to believe that one simply just has to
CurlyTop83: I am copying that and putting it in my blog, with your permission, of course
Magic PeteTree: sure
CurlyTop83: I think that was so articulately beautiful

Evolution

Magic PeteTree: i think there is valid scientific proof that evolution has happened, and i don't think it disagrees with any argument that God has created man. We know that God has created man... who are we to say that we know how He did it? However... evolution could never create a human soul... which is what differentiates us from animals...

Creation

CurlyTop83: I think 7 days of creation is cool, but that solar days didn't exist then, so unless the authors of the bible were Nostradamus, we need to let the idea go a little
Magic PeteTree: and esp since time is simply an argument of change, i mean God does not exist in time. He Is

My blog

Magic PeteTree: what is your blog link again?
CurlyTop83: sorry in advance, because I ramble

I think he is exceptionally profound for a college student. Thanks Peter for the good conversation, and thanks to the rest of you for sticking with me through the rambling.
Hugs all around, love always, ~Heather

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Decisions

I wanted to tell everyone I have finally made my decisions on graduate schools and will be applying to Johns Hopkins University for their Communication in Contemporary Society Masters of Arts degree and to American University's School of Communication for their Public Communciation Masters of Arts program. Both schools are in the Washington, DC area and have communication and public policy blended in their programs. Applications and financial aid forms will be occupying my time for a few days. Sorry y'all. Talk to you again soon. Love always, ~Heather

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

"Emotional" Collage

My first class today was pretty rough. They didn't really want to talk, they didn't seem to get too excited about the activity. In general, kind of bland. My second class didn't show up (this was always a possibility). But my third class.... I was so excited.

My third class today started off ordinary. Introductions, rules, and then a Speaking with Emotion exercise. They read these sentences, like :
That was the best joke I've ever heard!
Did you hear that?
There's a monster under the bed!
The first time through, they just read them. The second time it gets pretty entertaining, because I have them read it with the proper emotion. The third time, they get to choose their favorite three. I love how they laugh at themselves and each other.
Today, I tried a new activity with the class. They were asked to rip up a single sheet of newspaper. Then they had 5 minutes to glue it onto the back of their worksheet in whatever fashion they wanted. Afterwards, I had them explain what they had done. To say the least, they were certainly unique pieces of art.
When they had each explained their methodology, I explained why I had them do it. I went over to the poster of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. I told them that it was the celebration of his birthday yesterday in America. That in 1963 he had gotten up to fight for individualism, peace, and justice for everyone. That even though this class all had the same skin color, there were still other things that made them different - and their art proved it. No one had done the same thing. No one could have. And people like Martin Luther King had made it possible for everyone to not just be tolerated, but celebrated for their differences.
I don't know if all of them understood it. It might have wokred better if I had only used black and white newspaper. But I think it did something. I was still a little worried though, so I tied it back to the first activity as well. I asked them if they thought anyone would have listened to MLK if he had talked in a flat monotone voice. If he hadn't been passionate about the subject. I explained that when they gave their presentations and oral exams in English, a little emotional accessorizing would do them some good. Putting feeling behind the words was important to making htem well heard. And it would help cover up smaller grammatical mistakes. I think they understood that link much better.
After class, the teacher next door asked if we had been watching a video because she had heard strange noises. I told her it was just my class and me - no videos today. I think she was surprised a little until I explained what had been going on. She looked at me after and said she could tell I liked teaching now. I guess I do. I still can't do it all the time - but it is certainly entertaining when classes go well. I love making an impression and hearing them get excited about class. I'm really glad our laughter went through the walls. I'm going to hang their collages in the hallway. I want everyone to see what they can do when they put emotion into their activities.
Off for now, love always, ~Heather

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Sudden Realization

I feel like a complete and utter imp.

I was so excited because I had managed (with alot of help from my family) to send out the application packet to the Smithsonian. It was great, and I felt such relief in being able to cross it off my to-do list. I sent out the stuff hoping for letters of reference. And then I did the coolest thing... I sent the proposal to the guy at the museum who said he wanted to hear more about my ideas.

I got an email from him. He wanted to read it before I sent it in, not after I had finished it. He didn't necessarily want to discuss my ideas with me, just give me feedback as to how to propose the subject better, or something. So what I got back was an email saying it was impossible to help me at this point and that I better make sure I get it in the mail.

Just one more event to add to my list of things that have made me feel INCREDIBLY stupid.

The good news is, next time I have to apply for something, I know what it means when they say, "Consult with your potential advisor beforehand." For those of you who don't know, it means not to contact them and ask their opinion on your choice of subject and methods, but to do that and then follow up shortly thereafter with your finished project so they can help you change it and you can finish it again. I pray that someone who is reading this will learn from my idiocy.

Have a good Sunday. ~Heather

PS - I should note that Thompson-Peterson's Word of the Day was euphoric. I don't even know how to describe what kind of contradiction that is. ~HB

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Procrastination

I put off writing a really important part of the project until the mast minute. The front page is going to make all the difference on this subject. It has to be perfect. It has to be persuasive. It needs to be finished. I have punished myself by putting myself in a place called Procrastinators Hell. This is a location where you go and get writers block on a subject you know forwards and backwards because you waited really long and the Muses have decided to give you a little taste of what it feels like to wait. They could help you. They could swoop in. But, because you didn't go when the energy and ambition were with you, because you sacrificed yourself to the limitation of time, you must now work of your own accord. Entirely so. Hey, good luck. You're going to need it.

Choosing a Career

While reading my email before classes today, I glanced through one from a scholarship search engine I use. It was an article about making good career choices. I thought that was an excellent thing to look at considering my current state of quasi-indecision. Of the list of reasons one should avoid choosing a career or major which applied to me were the following:

Decision Paralysis: Becoming so overwhelmed with choices that you can't decide, or you decide not to decide. Example: "I don't know what I want to do, so I'll just go to graduate school to keep my options open." OR (my example) "I don't know what I want to do, so I'll go to France and think about it for awhile."

Rules of Thumb: Mental shortcuts to make choices easier. Example: "I better not major in art, because you can't get a job with that degree." (Same, except insert "theater")

The Information Cascade: Being influenced by repeated exposure to certain facts. Example: "I'd better go to graduate school to wait out this bad job market." OR (my example) "If I don't go to graduate school, I won't ever be able to find a good job."

The following is the only one where I agreed with the example, but not the evaluation:
Overconfidence: Overestimating your abilities, skills or knowledge. Example: "I really don't know what I'll do with a master's degree, but I'll figure it out by the time I'm done with grad school."
Personally, I think I can do anything I set my mind to, particularly if I am educated in the best wy to do it. However, I refuse to waste my money on an education I may never use.

This basically evens out to not knowing exactly what I am going to do next year, but at least knowing what I want to do next year. I still need a little time to think about which career I'll choose. But life has an interesting way of leading you in the right direction. It isn't all about fate, but like searching for something you've lost, the best answers appear when you stop looking. (I don't know if I'm all the way with that theory, but it is all I've got at the moment.)

Gotta run - feeling motivated. I need to make something happen amidst all my indecision. Love always, ~Heather

Monday, January 09, 2006

American Monday

I felt like I was having an actual day today. I had more than one job to do. I had work to do on my own. I had a few chores to finish in my room. I had responsibility. I love the feeling of being American.

I am not saying in any way that it is solely a western tradition to have those things, but it seems to me more and more that it is extraordinary here, and my day would have been like a really easy going Saturday back home.

I had class this morning and I had to go to three classrooms before one was empty. The one I found had a window that wouldn't close and an electric saw on metal and a drill going outside. It took most of the class to get the students going, and then the bell rang. I dropped my stuff and headed to my "Business Lunch." My client could barely string together sentences. I was supposed to talk to him - only in English - for an hour and a half. When half way through he reverted to french, I couldn't blame him. I went back to school and worked out my finances a little.

(I have this really cool program set up in Excel where I can keep track of every expenditure I make and compare the amount spent on any one type of item, say groceries, to the month before it. It calculates my monthly and yearly savings to date and how much of it can be spent on vacation to leave me with the same amount of money or more when I get back to the states. I can't believe I was nerdy enough to set it up, but I'm glad I did.)

I went upstairs afterwards and Anna and I settled up on the phone bill. I read until class again at 4. I taught for an hour. These students would probably tell anyone that they learned nothing with me. They told me, almost point blank, when I asked them which exercises they had enjoyed, "Nothing." But then they added the best word ... except. Except this or that, or this. And they were doing it in English, comprehensible English. They couldn't have done that three months ago. I take almost no credit - because they spend three times as much of their week with their other English teachers and no one learns anything unless they are really trying for it. But I had to smile as they got up to leave, I couldn't help myself.

I went to go buy meals for my meal card, but the guy wasn't there. So I sat outside for awhile and looked around. The moon was already out. There was a weird haze like someone was holding a gray veil over the sky. It was like a smoke that hurt your eyes to look into, not because it burned or had substance, but just because it was. I have only experienced a similar sensation once before ... looking up, in the middle of where Hamlin Terrace and Madison Place met and knowing as the rain fell down around me that I would never forget the blue-gray color of that sky. It was a weather related, unforgettable phenomenon.

I read a bunch and then went to dinner. Four girls I have never met sat down at my table to eat with me. Their "leader" said she just wanted to get to know me in response to their question, "why?" It was great to talk with them. Three of them were here for theater, gotta love the dramatic, and the other said something I didn't understand. They were all so vibrantly full of life in a weird way. I think that smoky sky thing was getting to me the way their .... that was it. They smiled. I don't think enough people smile here - not brightly anyway. And one of the girls asked why people hug each other in America. I said it was for the same reason they gave kisses here. It was great to not have to explain more than that.

Tonight I am going to write a summary of a project I have been thinking about for over a year and working on for more than two weeks. I can't exceed a page. Double spaced. I am sure you realize what a challenge this is going to be for me. I think I can face it. I am charged with the American endurance to get things done. I think I am being overly literary or poetical or something. But if my lame attempts at stylistic writing bother you, know that this is a temporary phase. Plus, you always have the choice to stop reading anyway. Gotta love those freedoms. Ugh, I am making myself sick now. Reading and writing tonight. And I fixed the blog so anyone can leave comments, so write a little yourself, okay? Love always, ~Heather

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Spare time?

I am currently keeping a second blog as well, and anyone who wants to is welcome to visit it.
The actual site is: http://heathersites.blogspot.com/ and is titled In your spare time.

However, if you actually have spare time, note this entry in particular if you can please!!!

http://heathersites.blogspot.com/2006/01/movies-about-space.html

Thanks a bunch, ~Heather

Acciale Formation = "Business Lunch"

This morning I hit snooze approximately 4 times before forcing myself to leave the warm comfort of my bed. After a shower, apple sauce, and a quick glance at my email, I was off. I had a meeting on the other side of Charleville at 11. I left for the 20 minute walk 40 minutes early and still arriced 10 minutes late. This was in partly due to flurries and dog poop dodging on the sidewalk, but primarily due to my inability to read the directions I had written to myself. On a road where the building numbers increased one at a time, I misread 119 as 189. 70 buildings, a highway ramp crossing, and 1/2 mile later, I finally reached my destination.

My meeting this morning was with a company that wants me to do some temp work for them. Another American assitant here had given them my contact information. I get paid 15€ a meeting (6 scheduled meetings so far) to eat lunch with an aspiring business person who needs to learn English. The 6 week session I have ahead of me is with someone who will speak close to 20 words in the language before the meals - but will also be simultaneously taking classes. There are other possible clients with whom I will be able to just speak to them and assist them with proper business lunch meeting etiquette, but for now, I just have to give this client an opportunity to speak with a native speaker. Plus, it is a meal a week in a restaurant which is absolutely free to me. I don't really see how I can lose here.

I accepted the position relatively quickly, and I start next Monday. I figure that this is pretty much a good way to have some extra money for vacation and to save up to pay my creditors back in May (which is the only time they will take the money from me). And speaking of saving up.... I am applying for a really good fellowship next year and won't have much time to write to you in the next few days. I hope you don't miss me too much. I am heading upstairs to start working now actually, so keep in touch. Love always, ~Heather

P.S. - Good luck with the start of spring semester to all my friends in acadamia back home. ~HB

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Beginning of 2006

Hello again from France. It has been quite awhile since I have been able to write to you from here. I got back to Charleville quite nicely (minus a 10€ charge for not having enough time to post my train ticket after a 13€ cab drive because the bus was late). I slept on the flight and on the bus and then again on the train. I ate dinner with Alice and Hugues, got home and went to bed at 11:30 last night. I guess I just needed to catch up on sleep. I will be taking a nap in a few short moments as well.

Classes started bright and early again this morning. Too bad I hadn't prepared my lessons in advance. I am really going to have to work on that. *Resolution 2: Prepare lessons in advance of all my lessons by at least 24 hours.

I am actually only writing to you quickly to wish you all a happy beginning to your 2006 work year. I saw an ad in Dublin airport that read, "There are about 1,950 work hours in the coming year. Hope you like your job." I thought that was pretty poignant. Also, it is a good thing I like my job. And, speaking of which, I am going to search for some things and then catch that nap before lunch. Happy New Year. ~Heather

P.S. Resolution 1 is to become effectively fluent. I guess I was just kind of leaving taking that one for granted. ~HB