Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Confession and repression

Well, I have a huge confession to make to you all. Although I continue to maintain the belief that I am, in fact, one of the most intelligent people in the world, I do make mistakes. I don’t like to make them, but then, who does, really? I have been particularly careful in my language learning experiences to not make embarrassing language mistakes, for example: I have never said “fesse à fesse” (buttock to buttock) when I have wanted to say “face à face” (face to face). And I have never made the “ss” in “baisser” (to lower) sound like a “z”(which makes an entirely different word that can have certain connotations). There are many other things I could use for examples. I don’t like to be embarrassed, but this week, I made a mistake. Some of you were so gracious to point it out to me, and the first person to tell me really made me blush. I thought, “What people don’t know won’t hurt them. I won’t say anything.” However, I am starting to get more emails calling me on my mistake, so I have decided to become a martyr to my humor or something. So get ready, everyone, because I’m about to tell you what I have done.

You know that picture of me squatting by that sign that says “Zona verde. No pisar.”? Well, it doesn’t mean “no peeing”, although “pisar” sure looks like the word for “peeing” in other languages. In hindsight, I see how absurd my translation is. I’m at the palace, for crying out loud. If the king of Spain wants to tell us not to pee in his yard, I’m sure he would think of a more genteel and kingly manner of doing so. “Green zone. We have WCs to the right so that you may relieve yourself.” Or “We ask that you would please not urinate on our lawn. Thank you.” You know…something like that. “Don’t pee here” just doesn’t fit.

Also, the sign is out in the open. It isn’t in some closed-in area, like the Paris Metro, for instance. “Welcome to the Paris Metro; please feel free to take care of your business anywhere along the path to your next train.” It also wasn’t an alley where no one goes except for the type of people who pee wherever they want. It was in the middle of the palace lawn where anyone could see them, unless of course, it is late at night and few people are around, like when I took my picture.

Another reason it now seems illogical that “pisar” would mean “to pee” is because why would a sign say “Green zone. Do not pee.”? I’ve watched Loony Toons. I know that when Pépé Lepu is at the zoo, there are signs on the grass that say “Non pâté de foie grass”, which means “Don’t walk on the grass”, right?

And then, I thought, well maybe the sign is so that dogs won’t pee on the grass. But I should have thought that dogs can’t read.

Hindsight is surely 20/20 because if I had just thought for more than 10 seconds about what I was about to do, I would have just said, when I sent that picture, “Here is a picture of me pretending to pee on the lawn at the palace. Teehee…isn’t that funny?!” But no…I did not that. I admit here freely, to my public, that I made a gross error. Thanks to Angenette and Ana for bringing me to this point of humility. But I will remind you that in my last weekly novel, I did say that my Spanish is going extinct. “Pisar” means “to step” or “to walk”, and “to pee” is “hacer pis”. I hope you can see where my mind is…and no, I don’t mean to say that it’s in the toilet. So now you all have something really funny to blackmail me with unless you have already deleted it, and to that, I say, “Bravo!”

Sunday, I went to Grenoble to go to church. It was a good day. That night, there were three baptisms. Before the baptismal service, the missionaries had a little fireside talking about the Holy Ghost and the role of Jesus Christ in our life. It was a great meeting, and the baptismal service was really good too. There were a lot of people from the congregation there to support the new members. It felt really good to be there, and it brought back so many memories for me. I had forgotten a lot of the feelings I had had as a missionary. It was really special for me to be there…something that I needed to feel.

That night I started preparing for my classes for this week. I also spent Monday morning preparing because I don’t have class until 13:30. So I got ready, and the teachers that I would have been working with told me that they weren’t sending students because they had too many things that they needed to be doing (during their conversation time that is specifically set aside to practice English and not to do many other things that need doing). I did, however, have one class for about 30 minutes. I got really frustrated because we were doing simple drills and exercises. There were 7 students (because I get half of the class and the teacher keeps the other half). The four guys were doing everything. They were angels and the people I would have rather been dealing with. Mais NON!! The three girls weren’t doing anything. They didn’t participate AT ALL. I would ask them questions or give them a turn in the exercise, and they would say NOTHING…not even “Chais pas!”, the normal response for someone who doesn’t give a rip about anything. So I got frustrated. I talked to them while the boys were doing what they were supposed to be doing. But then the bell rang, and they all left.

I went to talk to the teacher to find out how these students normally are in class and to figure out with the teacher how to get them to participate. I told the teacher exactly what we did in class and how I tried to help them participate. She said, “Oh, that’s normal that those girls don’t participate.” Another teacher that I had talked to before about the lack of participation from a couple of her students said exactly this: “Carrie, tu rêves si tu penses que tu peux faire parler tout le monde.” (Carrie, you’re dreaming if you think you can get everyone to speak.) THEN WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING HERE?! I thought that my job was to get everyone to speak. What is the point of my being here? What is the point of breaking the classes into small groups if I’m just supposed to let the weak or lazy fall through the cracks? What is the point of taking English? What is the point of school? Okay, let’s just let a bunch of stupid people roam the earth because if they don’t want to learn, we won’t teach them. That is the biggest bunch of boloney I have ever heard. I am astounded. I can’t believe it. I need to talk to these teachers and figure out what exactly I’m supposed to do if it’s not “faire tout le monde parler”.

And another thing…I feel like some people look at me (or ignore me) and think, “You are 26 and you just graduated from college. You have nothing to say about anything. I will ignore you because you can’t have a good idea.” (I’m getting all hot and fiery now!) I feel like when I talk to some of the professors, they aren’t really listening to me. They say, “Uh-huh, mm-hmm, etc.” And then in the middle of my sentence they jump up because they have to get to a class. They don’t say, “Carrie, can we continue this when I get done in an hour?” It’s a little disconcerting. The proviseur is not good to deal with because I swear he doesn’t know which way is up. So I am going to go to Anne-Marie, the teacher I like dealing with, who always has good students, and who seems to care about what I think. Hopefully we can discuss my issues and she can share them with the others because the others have to listen to her because she is the head-honcha of the English profs. I will let you all know how this turns out. Mais j’imagine que je rêve si je pense que je changerai l’avis de tout le monde. Mais alors, dream on!

Tuesday, I only worked my two morning hours. The afternoon teacher didn’t send students because next week during class, they will be going to a conference on smoking (I’m not sure if they will be passing out free cigarette samples and fun little Camel lighters or if they will be discussing the ill effects of smoking. Who knows?! We love our cancer-sticks here.), and if she sends students this week, then next week’s group will miss me, and for some stupid French reason, that will screw everything up. Please don’t ask me…I DON’T KNOW! Remember…I’m just a 26 year old who doesn’t know a whole lot about anything. I just know what she told me. Whatever…as long as I’m getting paid…

I need another vacation! Oh, wait…I have one Monday. How lucky is that? I am leaving Thursday night to go to Paris. Aren’t you excited?! You are going to get more stories and adventures brought to you by Carrie and Yolande! It is going to be a fun weekend because we have a blast together, and Yolande’s friend Nathan will be joining us, so he will add to the fun. Maybe next week you will get a picture of me doing things in the Paris Metro. Who knows? I’M CRAZY AND UNPREDICTABLE!!!

Tuesday night, I decided to go to dinner in the cantine here. When I got down there, I found out that the Spanish assistant, who usually stays in Grenoble with friends, was going to stay the night here. So I had another person staying on my floor! It was fun having someone else here. I could always go down and watch television with the students, but I don’t really have envie to hang out with them; you know what I mean? She is considering living at the school, and if she does, I think that staying here won’t be so bad. I’m going to wait for two weeks to see what she decides to do. She can help me practice my Spanish, too, so that I don’t make other embarrassing mistakes like that one…you know.


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