Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Strike three!

Another week has come and gone. Time flies when I’m in Pontcharra…like a dead duck. But seriously folks, I have fun adventures or stories to tell. I just have fun stories, actually. There were no adventures this week…sorry.

I was supposed to go play with cows last weekend. Some of you know how much I love cows. But I didn’t go because I decided not to go, and my back got tired of carryin’ my large sac everywhere and told me in a not so genteel way to not go anywhere. I was kind of sad, though because I really wanted to play with the cows. They are so cute! But Monique Bertola said she would drop me off down the road from her house so I can play with the cows and live with them if I want to.

Not a whole lot has happened this week. I had classes Monday and Tuesday, and I will have some tomorrow (or today for those who are readin’ this on Thursday). The teachers are strikin’ Thursday. I’m not sure what the strike is all about. I don’t understand strikes here. Everyone does it, except it isn’t anythin’ like the baseball strike, which is actually a real strike. This strike tomorrow is really just an excuse to not go to work, I think. Some teachers are comin’ to teach because…well, I don’t really know why. If I had a chance to take the day off, believe I would. I’m not sure what this strike is supposed to accomplish because it is only one day. The teachers could go stand out in front of wherever they go with signs sayin’, “Salads at lunch” or “Dry-erase boards” or “Oh no! I am po’.” or “More vacations” or whatever they want.

(Why they would want more vacations is beyond my comprehension, what with the way they make their own with these “strikes” and junk. And besides that, we have a TWO WEEK vacation comin’ up next week. BAM! Right in the middle of the term. These people are serious about their vacation time. Three weeks for Christmas. Two weeks at the end of February and the beginnin’ of March for Mardi Gras, and then two weeks at the end of April for Easter. So I think I have 5 whole workdays durin’ these next six months…but you won’t see me at that strike tomorrow as long as I’m gettin’ paid.)

So back to this “strike”… How can this thing be taken seriously if it’s only one day? The teachers are still standin’ outside of wherever they go with those signs or screamin’ or whatever, and the dude they are shoutin’ at is sittin’ in his fat chair poppin’ bread and foie gras in his mouth chucklin’ while tryin’ to drink his wine, sayin’ to himself, “It’s over tomorrow. What to do, what to do? Put down my wine? It’s over tomorrow. These people need to talk to some baseball players to learn what a strike is all about. If these little people were really strikin’, then I’d have to push the foie gras away because LA FRANCE can’t have stupid imbéciles walkin’ around. They need culture. They need language. But alas, these people will be home by dinner. It’s over tomorrow.”

Speakin’ of baseball, I am so glad to see a DIFFERENT World Series happenin’. I wish I could watch it. I don’t mean to turn my back on my Braves, but I just can’t watch them in the post-season anymore. I love them dearly; I do. But I have some trust issues with them. I’m glad to see that the Angels took out those stupid pinstripes in the first round. A truly heavenly moment…I hate the Yankees.

I don’t know if that one teacher is comin’ to school tomorrow or if she is strikin’, but I can tell you this. I will not be in my room at 8:00 in the mornin’. I refuse! You know, I don’t think that I’m gonna be teachin’ tomorrow since I haven’t seen her and she has my schedule and knows dang well where I am on Thursday mornin’s however I haven’t seen her in like two weeks now, so I won’t be there tomorrow. And it’s the strike tomorrow. And she hasn’t been at school all week. Maybe she was fired for being an airhead. You know, I shouldn’t defame her. She is really a nice lady, but she is blond. I have a problem with blonds who live up to their stereotype. I really wonder where she’s been this week.

Okay, vive la grève! Vive la France! Vive la bonne hygiène! Soyez sages! A la prochaine…

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Palestinian violence

Howdy, y’all! Another week has come and gone, and this last one was eventful. So sit down for a few minutes while I recount what happened.

I left Pontcharra last Thursday feeling frustrated with that one English teacher. My feelings toward her this week have not changed. Last week after she didn’t send her students to my classroom, we sat down and discussed the fact that despite not having constant contact with her, I would still be in my room at the appointed time. I also reminded her that she has a copie of my schedule. Then I told her to stop looking at me like I have a chia pet for a head. I also told her that she would not be seeing me for an entire week because I was leaving to go to Grenoble because of an assistant training meeting we were having. I let her know that I would be back Wednesday evening and that I would see her students Thursday (today) because I would be waiting for them in my classroom. Well, I bet you will never guess what happened…she dissed me, baby, one more time. I have nothing to say here; I’m speechless. What else do I do to communicate to her that …whatever. I don’t know. Maybe a light will turn on someday. Let us pray…

Friday morning I called my friend, Yolande, who is in Paris right now. She asked me what my plans were for the weekend. I had been planning on going to a party that Gwen and Jay (assistants in G-town) were putting together so the assistants can meet each other. Yolande told me that Paris was having une nuit blanche (an all-nighter), and a lot of monuments, museums and other exhibits were going to be open all night and entrance was FREE. So what could I do? I knew I was going to be spending 3 days in the midst of all of the assistants anyway, so I hung up with Yolande and promptly ordered my ticket to train up to Paris for the weekend. And it was such a fun one, too.

We (Yolande, her friend Nathan, and I) walked, traipsed and trudged around Paris for a long time without sleeping with 2.3 billion other people (that’s a funny, improperly placed prepositional phrase). We had many passing emotions, from giddiness to palestinian violence…again, these were just emotions and not actions. However down the street from where we were for part of the time was some Palestinian commotion. So we really didn’t go near that, what with America not really playing for their team and junk. We walked passed the KFC, and that made me chuckle really hard, and if you really want to know why, then you can ask me yourself. Dad, remember to ask me. Yolande, girl, you know, right?! You know!

In 15 hours being out on the town, we only got into two exhibits. We went to the Pantheon because it was closing at 11ish that night. We walked to the top, and that was awesome. We walked around and saw all of the Parisian lights. It was freezing, though. And the wind was blowing really hard. At 10:30, we were starving, so we stopped in the middle of the street and went into some random Thai restaurant, and it was so good. There were some wine-drenched French people (are there any other kind, you might be asking yourself) in there cracking us up. We stayed there eating, listening to the French people, and quietly talking about other French people for quite a while. Then we walked 1002 miles to see this exhibit called “Portraits dansés” because Nathan wanted to go. What this thing was is this: a guy went all over the world and interviewed different people. He asked them to describe the town they live in. Then he asked them what certain emotions mean to them (He asked everyone the same 5 or 6 emotions.), and then they had to portray those emotions in motion. It was sometimes funny, sometimes interesting, and sometimes zzzzzzzzzz. This old lady that lives somewhere in France used words, such as dégueulasse and laide to describe her town, which means she doesn’t find her city charming at all. It was funny to listen to her. We left around 3:something and went in search for a shuttle. We spent a long time walking around looking for one and laughing hysterically because that is how one laughs at that hour of the morning. When we found a shuttle that we thought was going in the direction we wanted to go, we got on. So it proceeded to take us back through all of the route we had just taken. We just laughed and then I almost threw up because a French person breathed in my face. It was awful.

When we got off the shuttle somewhere near Notre Dame we started walking towards the Eiffel Tower, and those of you who know Paris know that when you have been walking for 14 hours, that is not a distance you want to walk. So we found a taxi and went to the tower. The line was monstrous at 5:30 AM, so we just had the taxi take us home. It was a good time. We laughed a lot. We saw and met a lot of interesting people. The mayor of Paris was stabbed at the Hotel de Ville.

Sunday we went to Versailles for church. It was good. And there were a lot of good things said. I liked it a lot. And I didn’t fall asleep at all!

Monday I went back to Grenoble and the school district took all of the assistants to AuTrans, a ski-resort, for our training meeting. It was very nice going there. I met a lot of fun people and we ate good food. Sharing ideas for activities with the other assistants was the best part of our workshops. It really was the only useful thing going on in those. I met a lot of people from the UK…uh…we had fun.

Now I’m back in Pontcharra, and despite my morning going down the tubes, my afternoon was fantastic. I had two hours with the kids, and I had a blast. They did, too. They will do anything for candy. They were cracking me up. They were just jabbering away in English. It made me feel tons better about being here…not that I was feeling badly, but it was the best experience so far. I had been talking to one of the professors this morning and telling her about some ideas I had for class. I mentioned using candy as a reward for doing well in class. She said, “I’m not sure how well that will work. They might think that that is too childish.” I thought, “Candy? Too childish? Everyone loves candy.” She proceeded to tell me that she tried to give balloons out as prizes and that the kids thought it was stupid. Hmm…now THAT is a different story. Yes, balloons are stupid…unless they are filled with water. I will have to tell her that she was WRONG. Candy is the way to go. I will have to ask for a candy bonus.

Finally, I have reached the end. I wasn’t feeling especially humourous today, so I hope you didn’t finish reading before the end. Everything is going well. And Yolande, I’m going to smack you up for getting me hooked on those croissants!

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Heil Carrie!

Hi everybody! I hope your week has gone well so far. If it hasn’t, well, it’s over tomorrow!

My week went well…considering I didn’t break anything, including yogurt jars, I didn’t have any runs-in with the police, and I didn’t fall out of my bunk bed in the middle of the night…or any other time, for that matter.

I finally started work, but I think I’m in one of the most unorganized parts of the country because I have a schedule, but I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if I know what it is. I think it’s what I have posted on my wall, which was slapped together by the group of English professors and by myself. But I think the teachers think my schedule is something else. I went to my classroom for my class this morning and waited 20 minutes, and the teacher never sent students over. So I got her classroom number and went to see what was up. I knocked on the door and went in when I heard her tell me to come in, and she looked at me like I had a chia pet where my head would normally be. I asked if she had wanted me to come to her class before she sent students over or if she just wasn’t planning on having me work at my scheduled time. She said, “Well I wasn’t sure if we were going to do it today since I haven’t seen you.” What the beef?! I just saw you two days ago! Do you remember, or were you smoking the pipe of no-short-term-memory when we met? We said I would work with your classes at these hours. You said you would send students over. You even have the computer printed copy of my schedule, which is much better than my hand scribbled one. If I’m not going to be in class, believe I will let you know…and unless I’m dead, I will be there. And then she asked if I could cover an unscheduled class. Apparently some things work here without any notice at all…but I haven’t had the orientation meeting yet…that’s next week.

Tuesday, I learned that I need to learn how to be mean. When I was a live-lab assistant, it was fun working with other college students because they are easy to teach because they actually want to be there. I wasn’t annoyed when they cracked jokes and stuff because they were funny and the setting was such that we could afford be stupid sometimes. But now I have to be an old, crotchety, cranky high school teacher. That’s what I’m told…but I’m told that in French, and I forget what the word for crotchety is. I don’t mind if the kids tell jokes and stuff, but “they aren’t being good” if they are telling jokes. I say they are being high schoolers, but that doesn’t matter. “Spare the rod, beat the child!” That’s my motto…now. They are going DOWN!!! No more of this silly childishness for me. I’m going to be serious and use my authority by calling on the stinky-breathed principal if necessary. And then, I will chop my hair short, grow a funny moustache and speak some harsh German to scare them into submission.

Also, I’m learning that “urgent” doesn’t mean the same thing in these parts as it does in the United States. If something is urgent, that means that it will take two weeks to three months to get it…not so urgent. People keep telling me that it is urgent that I get my carte de séjour, so I went early last week to get papers going on that. But now I have to wait for a summon for the medical exam I have to have to get said carte. That can take anywhere from two to six weeks…but it’s urgent so I have nothing to worry about, I guess. Also…the phone saga…there was an “urgent” request placed by the phone people, but I still haven’t gotten my card. Hey…URGENT THIS! (pretend I’m doing something unkosher.)

I think we have some freakishly long holiday coming up at the end of the month, so I’m going to go to the land called Spain with one of my friends from BYU, Yolande. That will be fun, and I have nothing funny to write or say about Spain at this moment…but I have something funny to say about Yolande. She almost got arrested this week for “stealing” minutes at an internet café (Some freak said he could “hook her up” with some free minutes…with the Parisien po-po?!). And saying that, I guffaw.

Yesterday was my birthday. Thanks for the emails and wishes and junk. They put a pleasant smile on my face, which to some looks like a chia pet, apparently. I went to Grenoble for the day. I bought stuff. I walked around and saw stuff. I watched a movie, and a paid a billion dollars at a restaurant for yummy stuff. I bought some chocolate, and I ate it. I stood in a phone booth for an hour in the middle of the night calling my parents and other people so I could hear them say “Happy Birthday.” Yes, it was a swell day.

So…I think that’s all for the moment. I go to Grenoble today because we have institute tonight. And after that, we are going to one guy’s house for a karaoke night. It will be fun. Some assistants are throwing a wine, bread and cheese party this weekend. I guess I won’t drink the wine, but it’s a good thing I have this chapstick that is of cheap red wine flavor so I can still sort of have the affect without going stupid and seeing things in threes. Woohoo!