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Adopting in Ashburn

What began in France moved to Washington, DC and then the suburbs. Let the adventures in Ashburn continue.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

So nothing

I have so much nothing to do it is unbareable. Isay this because in reality there is plenty to do, new things to experience, and millions of books I have yet to read. I could write emails to friends who have written to me, I could make a comparitive table for the grad schools I have to choose from. I could do alot of things. But I'm not. And I probably won't. What is wrong with me?

Enervée

I am so frustrated right now I could really wring someone's neck. My students make the choice to just not come to class. Someone else takes my room - even though I have been using the same room all year and am always there. I have complained a 100 times. No one seems to think it matters what one insignificant little American thinks. (Frankly, it is just because I am an assistant and not a professor.)

This time, I ran into the principal as I was going to the teacher's lounge - and although there are about five levels of command in between this problem and him, I was so angry I told him about it. Not kidding, someone just interrupted me from writing this blog to find out what the problem was and why it happened. That is one way to make sure a problem gets corrected.

Anyway, besides that, things are okay. I have another teacher interested in special sessions, so Good Friday I'll be teaching two hours of Dance and Movement in Musical Theater. I am excited to be able to share the things I learned in Cindy Flach's class and in my Thursday Swing class. I am going to show clips from a variety of musicals, explain the terminology, and then demonstrate the movements. As a summary, they'll be learning a piece of choreography - probably the One number from A Chorus Line that I made last year for the musical and a short swing number. I think it is great to be able to teach something that I really love.

Also, I got an email today from the summer camp I applied to, and they would like for us to have a phone interview. Hopefully that will happen in the next week or so. Off I go into the world of work and business and trying to plan lessons (a two hour class!). I hope I can do it. It is the first class I'll have to teach in French (I usually teach in English and translate unknown words). I'm loving all this adventure. Always, ~Heather

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Decisions & Work

Decisions, decisions.
How do you decide?
Do you use your full heart?
Or use your full mind?

Decisions, decisions.
Oh what will you do?
You'll have to decide now.
It's all up to you.

For sure I will be going to graduate school next year. I got in to my number 2 choice school with a full-ride (and an assistantship to cover fees) and government loans and possible outside scholarships should cover the rest. I also got in to my first choice. They did not give me any money however. Now, I have a serious decision to make.

Do I go with exactly what I want and have been looking for or do I go with the school that won't really cost me anything and is still ranked in the top 10 schools in the nation for Communications? One allows me the opportunity to work in my field and have experience by the time I graduate the other will allow a part-time job. One requires a thesis, the other doesn't. I've never visited either campus, but I know one will have a college feel to it and the other is at a professional center ... mostly adult students. There are so many weighing factors.

The other thing is, I am still waiting on a letter from the Smithsonian. It could take another month before it arrives. I am going to try and call this afternoon and see where my application is in the process. I don't mind waiting for the response - but if I get the fellowship, will that affect my decision?

I know I can't rely on anyone else to choose for me - I wouldn't want anyone to anyway. But the thing is, I am basing these options on the propaganda thrown out on the schools' websites. That's all I am using to make this decision. These are two communication schools - they know exactly how to write to convince someone of something. Am I falling victim to age old practices of persuasion? I forsee a plus/minus comparitive chart coming soon to a desk in front of me.

And work. Oh work. With one of the schools, I can - am encouraged to - have a full-time job. Where am I going to find that? I mean, I know where I could find one - or at least a paid internship or two - but am I ready to fall head first into a full-time position and graduate school? Either? I think so. But then again, I think alot of things. An eternal optimist falls harder when reality knocks them off the edge. I'd prefer not to fall at all.

And then there is summer work. I have a no-matter-what-happens fall back job for the summer. Then I have an application in at a summer camp. I also have an application in for a government internship. And for a job working for PBS. And if none of that works out, I can apply to work at the library in Fayetteville or to tutor at Methodist College. I think that although I knew it was the last summer of freedom last summer, it hasn't honestly hit me until now that it was.

But, for now, I am letting those things go. I am postponing making any decisions until after I have had a little time for everything to settle in. I will probably send out pleas for guidance (hint hint). Until I know though, I have to just keep moving with life here. I have a film festival next week. I am doing a three-class series on the movie National Treasure using a Disney made teaching guide and resources from the National Archives and Library of Congress. There is a birthday party on Friday and a vacation to plan. Oh yeah, and I have to keep teaching.

In my not desperate, but belleagured mental state (is that appropriate use of vocabulary?) I have to recognize the enormous blessings I have. I have family and friends who love and support me. Enough brains to have gotten me into two very reputable schools and also financial aid. And more than anything else (except my use of "and" as the first word of sentences today), I have choices and the right to make them. Long live freedom. Love always, ~Heather

Monday, March 27, 2006

Stories within Stories

The following are stories within stories. All the links pretty much throw you here, so enjoy! Note: You should read the Romanzo Criminale blog first if you want to understand these "inside stories."

The Weird Dream
In my dream I heard music. I danced and did whatever else you do when you hear music. (In my dancing, I somehow clicked off the alarm clock) Then, a little later in the dream, I had an appointment. It was 10:20 and I should have been there at 10. I was late. I walked in and apologized to the secretary. Then I looked up again to confirm how late I was to myself, and it was 7:40. Wow, that's weird I thought. Then I woke up. It was 7:38. I was late.

Crap Things about my 200 year old building
In my hallway there were three floods last week.
On my floor, the boys sink(s) in the dormitory overflowed. Status: Fixed with French Drano.
On the second floor, water has been dripping for almost a month. The drip turned serious when it suddenly became a stream, and broke threw three ceiling tiles. Status: Something like kitty litter is all over the floor to collect the water (since last Friday) and the water seems to have stopped.
In the entry, they fixed the back door so it wouldn't stick and now water rushes in when it rains. It rained three days last week including one thunderstorm. Status: Despite my opening the doors, someone using a muddy mop, and hopefully some other effort, the floor and the first three steps are still constantly wet.

International Bike Race
They blocked off different parts of town all weekend for this race. Saturday, most of Mézières and Sunday pretty much my entire half of Charleville. But, the race start. On Friday, it was an intertown race, where they went all over the countryside. Saturday, it was in in-town group thing. Sunday (the start I saw) they started one at a time. They were on a little stand and the guy said go, and off they flew down the ramp, along the road and then around the corner - their sponsor car in hot pursuit. It was a race against the clock. Pretty interesting little set-up if you ask me.

Avoiding the Other Assistants
I have become anti-social with people I find to be simple minded. I unfortunately must decide on what events to go to based on how many annoyingly stupid people will be there. In this case, it was a goodbye party for a girl I haven't seen since November. She had my number, I had hers, I called once, she never called. I gave up. She was not simple minded. However, the people throwing the party were. I will not mention names or other relatively unimportant details to people who have never met the people I am actually talking about, just suffice it to say, they aren't the type of people I would usually be friends with.

For example, I recently saw a film with one of them and she had completely gotten the premise of the film wrong. It was the Treason movie and she thought the idea of the movie was to find the traitors. I explained to her that this was not the case. (This wasn't one of those things that were really open ended, she just hadn't understood.) As we continued talking, the discussion let to politics. She has chosen her political party based on the fact that their color is yellow - and she thinks it is pretty. She hates another party because her grandmother used to dislike the leader of that party in the 80's. She claimed that everyone where she came from who wasn't crazy felt that way. This isn't the case of her being super into something and speaking up, it was just her plainness standing out. It reminded me why I had stopped hanging out with her back in December.

I shouldn't have avoided the party solely based on that person being there. However, I find that most of the other assistants are here to avoid going to school for a year, to drink and party, or because they had nowhere else to go. I admit I was sort of possibly in this third category at one point. However, I have made friends outside of the other assistants who speak my language. Something few of them have. I just didn't want to spend a whole evening speaking English with people I didn't already get along with. So, I avoided them. Lord, please help me to not judge people so harshly when I myself have so many faults.

For now, that is all the extraneous stories I have for you. I'm sure I'll have more at some point soon. I always do. Love always, ~Heather

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Romanzo Criminale

For those of you who don't know, that's Italian.

Today has been such a whirlwind of stuff, it reminds me of the good old days when I was busy. I went to bed around 1 in the morning (after the time change). Why so late? Because we drove to Reims last night for a volleyball game, which we lost.

During the third game, the stupid coach actually called a timeout to yell at me. I'm serious. Not because I was playing poorly, but because the ref had called me on being in the net or going under the net (he wasn't even sure) and I said that was ridiculous and that I hadn't touched the net. The ref, being the ref, obviously won this little dispute. The idiot who claims to be our coach (but comes to practice only once a month and doesn't actually train with us when she is there) took the side of the ref, not because he was right (because seriously, the other team even seemed to agree with me) but because she thinks I should set from the ten foot line instead of being next to the net. She says it effects my ability to set properly to be close to the net. I think she needs her head examined. So, she took this opportunity to yell at me, while we were trying to play, about where I was when I was setting. I took the opportunity to tell her to leave me alone - I was trying to play. Also, that I knew I was right. So, she called a time out.

The following is an awful lot like the time I threw that book at stupid Professor Gwara: She calls the timeout specifically to tell me off. She starts with, "You don't have the right to talk to me that way!" I followed with: "You don't have the right to talk to me about the way I play at all. I am a good player, and I am working my butt off out there. So is everyone else. All you have done all evening is put us down. I have explained to you multiple times that I know what I am doing on the court and if you would like me to continue playing this evening (no sustitute players were there) I am going to need you to stop telling me only the bad things that are going on!" She was so stunned that she responded like a child (or she is really just this adle-minded) "But I can say what I want." The buzzer rang. I threw my hand in. So did everyone else. I said, "Let's go!" We got on the court. We lost the game. 27-25. We had been down before the timeout and had come back to drag them into extra points.

I should express here that I usually just ignore her. As a matter of fact, I had ignored her all evening basically (or at least tried). Most of the team functions as I do - we play better when we are happy. Actually, I think just about everyone is this way. Games are supposed to be fun. She was dragging us down. Even when we were ahead, she would tell us we were doing poorly. She told people to move to the wrong places. And - I kid you not - even got on the court and attempted to show us how to move to the ball during a timeout in an earlier game. I'll have to send you a picture of this person who has about 2.5 times my body weight and is about 2 inches shorter. No, I won't because it isn't nice to do that. But then again, it was pretty darn funny her trying to tell me how to get to the ball.

For anyone who isn't up to date, I am not a great volleyball player, but know a little bit about the game. Our "coach" as she calls herself is at about the same level as a sub on a middle school girls team. Otherwise, I absolutely promise, I wouldn't be so disrespectful. In fact, I was pretty calm - I didn't even yell, though I admit I did raise my voice when she tried to interrupt me. Anyway. We got back late and then Sonia and I went out for pizza.

I slept through the 6 o'clock alarm I had set for myself. This was bad, as I was supposed to be at the church at 7am. I woke up at 7:38am having had a weird dream.I was at church by 8:15 for the croissant sale. They hadn't needed my help as it turned out. Oh well. I stuck around and did whatever for the next few hours until church. Then I came home, unclogged my sink, switched the laundry, made and ate lunch, and then ran out the door again. I played flag football this afternoon. I scored none of the 36 points my team won with. However, I was the center and a blocker, and ran the distraction plays. It is the first time in a team sport like football where I actually felt like I contributed something even though I hadn't scored anything. And, I had a blast.

Also, I saved some earthworms. They were all coming out of the ground from the rain yesterday. Which reminds me that I have a translation of the bulletin article on water for you Paula. It is up and coming.

Anyhow, I went back to the school after the game and layed (laid?) down on the stone bench outside my door. This lasted about 10 minutes before the angle of the bench made me get up. I went upstairs and tried to take a shower and shave my legs. Here is why it was called trying: the door fell off the shower when I opened it. I have apparently turned into the Hulk. That, or the freaking thing is broken like everything else in the building. I then discovered (after having arranged the door so the least amount of water would escape) that the razor after almost no use (meaning the first time I was trying to seriously use the thing) was dull. Beyond dull actually - it did nothing.

My shower being an utter failure at this point, I got out (door fell off again) and went to get changed. I had missed a call. Returned it and in period of ten minutes was out the door again to meet Sonia for a film. I was waylaid by the police on the way who were blocking the streets for the international bike race in town today. I have never seen this type of start before in my life. It was a little bizarre. I was sad I didn't have my camera though, because it was really cool to watch. We got to the movies and took our seats to see Romanzo Criminale. (Roman Crime??) It was a good movie. Catch it at a Blockbuster or something, because it probably won't come out in theaters at home (though I think American's would like it.) I was bummed because I thought (despite the title) that because there was a French director and some french actors in it that it would have been in french. Dubbed over from the Italian ... I would have rather read the subtitles I think, but, no matter - I'll find it and read it with English subtitles!

When we were walking home afterwards, the Place Ducale looked like a field the day after a big carnival has left town. It is so strange to see something that was so alive and tightly-packed look so barren and open. But, it really makes you appreciate the town. The square looked to me like the palace it is the identical model of for the first time today. I walked home slowly and took up my place on the bench again. Five minutes later, I was already upstairs. Then I came down here to talk to you (lucky you). Truth is I am avoiding going out with the other assistants. Anyway, for now, I am going back upstairs to eat. I am super hungry and it is getting pretty dark outside too. Love always, ~Heather

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Rencontres Interculturelles

Intercultural Meetings. Doesn't it look about 100 times nicer in French?

The city of Charleville-Mézières has a week a year where they celebrate cultural diversity. I have taken part in two exceptional intercultural activities so far.

Last night I went to see La Trahison or Treason in English. It was a film about two soldiers in the Algerian War versus France when they wanted their independence. The story followed this Lieutenant and a regular foot soldier through the closing of villages and moving the locals to camps. The private was of Algerian ancestry. His commanding officer didn't know what to make of it all. However, the other soldiers of French ancestry and the officers in high command suspected the private and his other Arab friends of being traitors because of their roots. They treated them poorly, and all the while these poor guys are getting it from the locals who call them swine and their "comrades" who mock and segregate them. The private asks for a transfer when it is becoming too much. The lietenant is being given directives to investigate them, etc, etc. In the end, they arrest the 4 Arab French soldiers "discreetly" and take them away on suspected charges. The last scene is of the private saying "Vive l'Algerie!" The French army, through their mistreatment, had literally turned him traitor. Kind of gives you something to think about.

Then, I got up this morning and went to an African storytelling session in the library. The storyteller was very good. I learned alot about style and formatting from his performance. Afterwards, we talked and he gave me some encouragement to continue telling stories - regardless of the audience base. If you remember, ask me to tell you the story of the man who's pants were too long or why they gorilla beats its chest or how the rooster got its colors. It is amazing to have learned these stories from someone who brings them from his own cultural heritage. He said he was disappointed he didn't know I told stories until after the session, or he would have asked me to come up and join him. Even in a foreign language, he said storytelling would get through - I'd be surprised. I think I might give it a try with one of my classes.

Afterwards, I did something multi-national; I went grocery shopping. Yum Yum. This evening I have a volleyball game in Reims. (We actually won last week for the first time this season. I hope we can do as well today.) Then, it is up early for the Croissant Sale. We took orders (the youth group) from people and we'll be delivering the croissants hot and fresh from the bakery. The kids are going to use the money to support a mission in Africa. Some of the kids want to go instead of just sending money. I guess we'll see how that works out. Then tomorrow afternoon an international bike race (not La Tour de France) but a qualifier and practice run comes through town and actually ends in the Place Ducale. After that I am going to head over to one of the other assistant's apartments to say goodbye to Léa, a German assistant, who starts school in April and so has to leave early. I'm sad we didn't really get to spend that much time together. She is an awesome person.

All the while, I am planning an American Film Festival. Of course I have been met with all kinds of resistance. However, like the Borg, I believe that resistance is futile. I will succeed. More than that, it is going to be so good they'll try to do it themselves next year. Maybe. In the mean time, I have reserved the room, set a pretty decent schedule and printed descriptions, summaries, theme lists, etc in French for the teachers and students. I am going to paper the hallways with posters (something they don't do here, so it should work out okay) and hope someone comes. If one of the first films are successful, I feel like the others will do really well - word of mouth is better than nothing. We'll see about that too I guess.

Anyway, I am super hungry and only have about an hour and a half to finish my work for the day before I have to leave for volleyball. Hugs and kisses and miss you much, love, ~Heather

Pondering

I spent a good part of this morning reading other people's blogs. I got as far as three times removed from the original blog post I had been reading. I even commented as often as I felt moved to (unless they had Livejournal, in which case, it wouldn't let me).

In my reading I came across St.Elizabeth's response to a question I had posted on her blog a few days ago. (You should scan through any of her blogs for some interesting medical/religious interpretations.) Anyway, it made me think about the usefulness of this particular blog page.

I wonder if I will continue to blog after all my adventuring is done. i feel like this is a medium that allows for intimate thoughts and appropriate response - without fear of having to see someone's face. But then again, I rarely have trouble looking someone in the eye when explaining my point of view on anything.

Then, I couldn't decide if I liked that all my blogs are exceptionally long. I have resigned myself to this.

All this pondering comes as a wind-down to my last month and a week here in France. I feel like the time has flown. It is hard to believe that 6 months have passed. There is so much I have yet to accomplish. And so much I have already achieved. What a blessing this experience is.

I am going to seperate now and type in the actual events from the past two days. They won't be overly profound, funny, or otherwise as interesting to the rest of the world as they are to me but I appreciate you taking it in all the same. Love always, ~Heather

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Inspiration

Today I taught a class of three students a lesson I have learned from every teacher since Mrs. Molyneux (kindergarten): I can be/do anything I set my mind to.

These kids really thought they couldn't. They have always been told it isn't possible. So I asked them, how do you think so-and-so did it? If it isn't possible, how did they do it?

They, I kid you not, really struggled with a response. Emeline finally said they had confidence in themselves. I gave these kids a pep-talk for the next 40 minutes basically. I told them they could change the world. I said they could do anything they set their mind to. I asked them questions and then more questions trying to pry their fears out of them. I made all self-doubt look illogical. I made all impossibilities practical realities.

They don't think things can ever change. I told them that couldn't possibly be true. Then the bell rang. They stayed.

You could tell they were at least ready to hear that there were other possibilities.

In the next two weeks I will be showing American films in my self-created "American Film Festival." Each day (well, almost, due to scheduling conflicts) I will be showing a different film. I have been writing a letter to the teachers about it today - trying to encourage them to participate and create an English/other subject interdisciplinary approach to the material.

For my class of non-believers, October Sky. For the ones that say the establishment holds you back and prevents progress, Lean On Me. For the ones who are against the death penalty, The Life of David Gale. All of those are based on true stories.

In other, more curriculum friendly, forms we have
for literature: Midsummer Night's Dream, Finding Neverland
for social debate: Philadelphia
for history: National Treasure

And then, of course, I might show a musical, an adventure film, and something else - just because you should have all sorts of genres in an American Film Festival.

I don't know if the kids are going to take advantage. I don't know if the teachers are even going to try to get involved in it. I could sit in the room with all the worksheets and debate questions I'll have prepared and wait. And if one kid shows up, it'll be worth it. It only takes one.

But it didn't only take one to make me. Thank you to each and every one of my teachers. To the ones who always believed in me, the ones who never did, and the ones who stood on the sidelines and silently cheered (or booed).

Because the ones who always believed made me believe. The ones who discouraged me only forced me to work harder to prove them wrong. The ones who stood on the side were at least standing, whether they were encouraging or not.

I would not be me, nor be here if I hadn't had the most amazing teachers to send me on my path. There are not enough ways to say thank you.

Merci, danke, gracias, gratzi, ~Heather

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A is for Also

Also, I wanted to tell you that after doing some blog reading (catching up, reading everyone else's stuff, I am bursting with emotion. [Be sure to footnote here my journal entry in the brown leather journal from last night. *In case I ever do really malke my book.*] Perhaps there is a poem to follow. Love always, ~Heather

Relentless

Relentles as my pursuit might be to put the photos from the trip up on the website, I have been stumped yet again. Still lacking that cable (honestly haven't looked that hard this week hoping that STOPPING looking would make it appear), I must resort to using my USB key to put the pictures on the computer. Not a problem. Except at school you can only upload one at a time like that. Not so cool. So I went to Alice's where I was bound to be able to fix that problem. Not so much. Her computer doesn't recognize my key. So, as unluck would have it - still no pictures.

However, for those of you who are exceptionally lovely and sent me messages about my slackness in getting the pictures posted (seriously, I appreciate them, it proves that at least someone is reading this), I will make each of you a CD slide show of the pictures I have taken since I got here and send it to you when I get home. Because, to put up with my rambling, you must deserve it.

Good news though, I have written most of the sub blogs about everything that went on. And just as soon as the internet works at school and my key shows up on a computer, we'll be all set.

In other news, I am playing the waiting game as letters from up and down the East Coast seem to be arriving as slowly as humanly possible. It appears as if every place I have applied to is as bad about procrastinating until the last possible minute as I am. I should have two letters by April 1st at the latest. That is pretty good news considering ... well considering it is alot closer to April 1st now than it was, say, in January when I sent the applications. Anyway, still waiting.

Besides that, life here is pretty much normal. We had really unusual weather the past three days. It was sunny and warm. But, not to fear, it is dreary, rainy, cold, and worthy of earmuffs and gloves again (yesterday I was wearing a t-shirt and an open windbreaker). I'm glad I decided to not bring any shorts with me. They wouldn't have gotten a single bit of use anyway. I am desperately looking forward to the unpredictable yet much more enjoyable weather of the East Coast.

And now, I am just killing space. That isn't fair to you, or the trees they are cutting down.. wait a second, they aren't cutting any trees down for this. I can write and write and ... just kidding. I'll leave you alone. And I'll work on getting that other stuff posted for you. (For me too, I suppose.) Because what is a relentless pursuit if it does not end in the achievemnet of a goal?

P.S. I watched Into the Woods last night. So I was thinking about you. (If you have no idea what this part is about, chances are it isn't for you, and I am being cryptic. If you haven't seen that musical, you should. Everyone needs to learn morals every once in awhile. Especially because we so often forget that a slotted spoon will catch the potato.)

Love always, ~Heather

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Food notes

You should buy some goat cheese. I just did.

In lieu of leaving my sudden thoughts on my IM away screen I leave this to you. Off to enjoy the beautiful weather. ~Heather

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Moon is Up

Last night I decided to read instead of writing comments for the pictures I promised. I didn't do most of the things I was supposed to do. I read. John Steinbeck's masterpiece in my eyes is The Moon is Down. It is a story about a Norwegian town that was invaded by the Nazis during WWII. I read all 142 pages in about an hour and a half. It was compelling, moving, motivational, telling, and human. It gave personality to the Germans as much as it did to the Norwegians. It talked about war as only one can talk about war after it has been experienced, but in a present tense that was entirely believable.

If you haven't read anything by Steinbeck lately (or ever you sad, sad, literature-deprived people) this is the one to read. Now I've read The Pearl, Of Mice and Men, most of The Red Pony, and of course the never-ending Grapes of Wrath. But this is the book. (It was first printed in the very early 50's if you are having trouble finding it.)

Anyway, besides being moved by literature, I have also been moved by tax forms. Yes, nothing makes me want to open my huge bay windows and throw myself (or the idiot(s) who designed tax law) out than filling out paperwork created by the US government. To get my money back this year I have to file a full 1040, a foreign wage form (9 something), a SC 1040, a SC Non-resident form, and probably some sort of deferment, because I cannot figure out how to do all this itemizing myself and will require the assistance of my father.

The bad news is, I can't really defer, because I have to turn in my FAFSA so I can get financial aid next year, and the FAFSA requires that I have at least the 1040 filled out (which requires the foreign form first). Boy, I am one lucky girl. The good news is that all of these forms come with instruction booklets to help me out. If I were to actually read them all it would sum up to something close to 250 pages and 97 worksheets for the measly $100 dollars I'll be getting back. I wonder if I offer to just let them have it if they'll leave me alone.

Aside from all that, this week has been highly uneventful. I have spent a good amount of time procrastinating. We finally got out washer and dryer - which was cool until I realized that the entire inside of the washer was moldy because some idiot had not let it dry out before shipping it. And if you have ever tried to clean the inside of metal grated, mold infested three door (yes, really) washing machine, I think you'd know what a futile task I was going for.

Insert good uses for ShowerPower cleaner (it works on the mold in the shower!). I sprayed it on and left. Today, all the mold looked dead (or at least flatter and less colorful). This lead me to thinking it would be easier to run the machine and let a towel clean the inside itself. I don't actually have any cleaning towels persay, so I used the two throw rugs. I'll see how its looking and let you know after I go upstairs.

*The best part of this new washer was not however the mold. It was when they attached the pipes to the wall, before they attached the machine, and then just left the pipes uncapped in such a way that everytime the toilet was flushed water rushed out of the PVC in a fountain like fashion. I ingeniously used our garbage can as a water trap so the floor wouldn't flood. Fun times in a 150 year old building.*

So now I will get around to telling you other things. Like, congratulations to Adella and Tom on being engaged! Yeah for that. Thank you to the hundreds of people that have served as references for me lately ... the letters have started coming in, and I'll let you know the results as soon as I have made a decision on what I am doing. I am still completely dumbfounded as to what I'll be doing this summer. Suggestions welcome. The Quote of the Day is: "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." ~Albert Einstein. The internet will not let me upload more than one photo at a time, so I have only managed to get like 5 photos in a place you can see them. Sucks to be both of us on that account. Also proves Einstein's thought about stupidity.

The moon was so full here the other night the courtyard looked like there were searchlights turned on in it. I don't think I've ever seen more moonlight - it blinded me from seeing stars. I can't tell how it looks tonight, because I am here with you, but I'll say that if I carry only one visual with me when I go back to the states it will be the night sky without city lights and a fabulous moon and stars you can see in such clarity...

I know many of you will be having your corned beef and cabbage tonight with Irish soda bread and some sort of whisky, brandy, a pint, or a coffee with Bailey's. But if you can, (in a sober state) go outside and look up. Know that about 6 hours before you are looking, I was here, doing the same thing. As I listen to Into the West I feel that the moonlight and this song are perfect imagery for what will all too soon be my last night here. I love this shore, this land of ancient battles and history. I love it and yearn to stretch my fingers to the horizon and grab my homeland and pull it closer. Then I look up and remember how close I am.

Love always, ~Heather

Monday, March 13, 2006

Warning: Novella to Follow

I have decided in my infinite wisdom (meaning my lack there of entirely) to create one long blog about the past two weeks. This will most certainly result in many of you losing your collective mnds. Either that, or you will not read the entire thing and certainly ask me all sorts of questions I have already answered about what happened, what we thought was funny, etc. This is in the hope that you actually care, have time to, or even know that the last two weeks were full of interesting trips and such.

OKay, so I lied about writing a novella. In fact, I have decided to spare you from my incessant ramblings (except for these introductory paragraphs). Because a picture is worth a thousand words and we took about 1000 pictures (that, by the way, is not a joke) I think that the next million words are a little futile. So, I am going to outline the trip, and as I slowly upload the pictures to the internet, I am going to create links to the photo galleries. Each photo will have an accompaning commentary, and depending on your operating system, probably be able to be viewed in the fashion of a slide show. I will seperate the major events (i.e. the places we took the most photos) into seperate folders altogether to spare you the insanity of viewing each and every photo we took.

If possible, we are also going to add some "Google video" of the trip as we took it - meaning mostly shots out the windows of cars or buses with accompaning commentary provide by your nerdy host or by Marco (in Spain) or Caroline. We'll see about the video though. Now, onto the outline.

Day 1 - Paris, France
I took an early train and met Caroline at the airport. We dropped our bags at the hostel and then we started our hirlwind tour of the city. We visited: Montmartre, the Sacre Coeur, Madeline Church, Opéra (the one from the Phantom of the Opera), Place Vendôme and the boulevard of big hotels and jewelers, the Tuileries Gardens, and then the Place Concorde. We walked up the Champs-Elysées and then climbed the Arc de Triomphe. We walked past Les Invalides (the veteran's hospital where the remains of Napolean can be found) and the Ecole Militaire before getting dinner. (Between Les Invalides and dinner I did manage to get us lost for about 15 minutes, but it was the only misplaced time of the entire day. Then it was back to the hostel for bed. [Funny alarm clock story]

Day 2 - Barcelona, Spain
Up and at 'em early, the metro almost made us late for our shuttle to Beauvais Airport (actually an hour from Paris). However, we are cool, and therefore made it. On RyanAir flight later past snow capped mountains and sunny beaches we arrived in Girona, Spain (about an hour from Barcelona). Marco met us where the shutle dropped us off and took us to our hostel where we left our bags. Then we all walked through the Gothic Quarter searching for a place to buy a phone card for Caroline to call home. We had lunch in an Italian restaurant (strange, I know) and then it was off to see the sites. We visited: the Sagrada Familia and the Park Guell. We went in search of some stuff at our hostels and then to La Ramblas, next to the Colmubus monument which was followed by the marina where we had dinner. We touched the Mediterranean Sea (known to us informally as "the ocean"), and then walked to boardwalk towards, perhaps, the Olympic Village. We took a taxi home. 500 more meters and we would have been there.

Day 3 - Barcelona, Spain
We visited: the MNAC or Musée Naionale de Arts Catalunyan (sp?), the Olympic Complex, and La Perdrera. We had dinner at QuQu. We drank an inordinate amount of Sangria. We walked La Ramblas again and then went home on, what I adoringly call "the scenic route." I did not get us lost, I just walked us about four blocks out of the way.

Day 4 - Barcelona, Spain & Girona, Spain
We visited: La Casa Battlo and then went shopping for whatever it was we went shopping for. We got back to the hostel a little late. We got lost on the way to the shuttle to the airport. We took a metro, a bus, and then a taxi to get there. [Not so funny story about getting lost] We finally got to the shuttel stop. While looking for the right bus, we missed the last one to get us their on time. We watched our plane board as we pulled in, and as we walked across the street to the hotel 10 minutes later, we watched our flight leave.

Day 5 - Paris, France & Charleville-Mézières, France
We took the earliest possible plane. We still did not get there in time for the train. We fiddled around while waiting. Then we came back to Charleville where I subsequently crashed. (In my dreams) I taught within 20 minutes of getting off the train and then I really did just collapse. Caroline unpacked. For about another 10 minutes, until we went to badminton followed by a Mardi Gras themed youth group. Afterwards, for real, I was out cold.

Day 6 - Charleville
Too tired to do anything else, I got up to teach from 8-10 and went back to bed. Sick and extremely tired, we both spent the rest of the day being lazy until volleyball. Yeah for a good pepper partner.

Day 7 - Charleville
I forget.

Day 8 - Sedan, France; the higway in Belgium and Luxembourg; & Darmstadt, Germany
We saw the Château Fort in Sedan and I taught classes. Caroline got directions and such and we picked up the rental car. Then we left at 5:30pm. We drove. It snowed. We got stuck. [Interesting/boring story of getting stuck in the car for over 5 hours] We drove. we arrived at 4:20am. It was supposed to be a 4.5 hour trip.

Day 9 - Black Forest, Germany & Baden-Baden, Germany

I'm taking a break. Also, if you think this is alot for a brief outline of events, feel free to read an ordinary blog. I'm sure I'll blow your mind. Later, ~Heather

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Missing

Things that are missing:

Two weeks or more worth of blogs
Lots of pictures (taken but unposted)
Cable to hook camera to computer (likely hidden in the disaster of my single room being shared by two people)
Comments of concern (besides one from Marco) about my lack of blogging.

Coming soon:
Descriptions of trips to more places than I will write about now.
Pictures.
Rambling of the incessant, intolerable, and Heather kind.
Comments from readers who, in their exasperating love for me, will feel the need to post remarks expressing shock, concern, surprise, glee, or any number of other emotions about the upcoming blogs and photos.**

More soon.... ~Heather
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