Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Not a crowd pleaser

Well, I have come to the conclusion that no one can please everybody all of the time, so I’m just going to quit trying because wasting energy in vain is stupid. I am going to be me. I am going to do and say what I want, and if people are offended along the way, then they are going to have to get over it. Brigham Young once said something like, “If you are offended, you are dumb.” I don’t remember the exact wording, but it was something close to that.

I don’t mean that I’m going to start a drinking habit and flash random people on the street. I’m not going to start calling certain people names like “woman” or worse if I know they don’t like it. I am not starting a campaign to purposefully offend anyone; I’m just saying that if I do something that offends you, know that it isn’t intentional. I’m going to continue my everyday behaviour, but I’m going to stop tiptoeing around eggshells. I’m going to walk normally on them, and from time to time I might fancy a stomp. By the way, I just want to apologize for having not written a letter last week. I hope you will forgive me.

Thanksgiving day I skipped school as a start to my new philosophy so I could join some friends in Thonon les Bains, a city on Lake Geneva, for an evening of food and being thankful for it. We had turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, corn, rolls, pie, and other food. It was fun spending an evening with Americans.

The following day, I went to Geneva with Yolande and Nathan. (They were at Thonon les Bains for Thanksgiving as well since another BYU faithful, Bernie, hosted the dinner.) The three of us have been dubbed “the three musketeers”. We spent 36 hours together in Switzerland doing what musketeers do: mooning cameras and saying very intelligent and philosophical things like, “Wow, I can’t believe how clean the lake is. It’s like a pool…with stuff in it.”

When I returned to Pontcharra, I continued my “I don’t care” attitude. I was tutoring two students who want a little extra help since they are going to be taking their baccalaureate this year. We were going over some grammar exercises that were taken out of a British grammar. As we were going through them, the language baffled me because Americans would never say some of those things! (When I was in Switzerland, I went with the other musketeers to eat at Pizza Hut. A British man was sitting at the table next to us and started talking to us about what we are doing over here. At one point he said to us, “You know, the British are proud of their English, but in truth, it is you that speak a version closest to the original English.”) Feeling supported by the Pizza Hut conversation, I went to one of the professors, who is British, and told her that I don’t care for the Queen’s English. She acted shocked, but it actually broke the ice between us.

Back at Pontcharra, I also noticed that I still hadn’t been paid. Having been here for two months, I felt that it was past ridiculous that I hadn’t seen a paycheck. So I got angry, meaning I went to our very nice secretary and told her in a very pleasant manner that I was wondering if she knew when I would get paid. She got all fiery on my behalf and told the proviseur, who also became enflamed because no one treats their assistant in such a way. He got on the telephone, or téléphone as we say in France, and got me some money. Way to be, him!

With my new money, I bought a ticket to Paris to have a last hurrah with my fellow musketeers. Yolande returns to North America today. It’s a sad story, but we will all be reunited in Sénégal in May, and certain people who will have charge over us will surely have their hands full when we three march into the country.

I went to the Louvre again because I had wanted to get a picture of a certain sculpture called “Psyché ranimée par le baiser de l’Amour”. It is a beautiful and sexy sculpture. I have fallen in love with it. While I was looking at it to figure out what I wanted to take pictures of, a group of 25-30 Japanese tourists swarmed around it. It was like the “big bang” of Japanese people. One second they weren’t there, and the next, the whole country shows up out of nowhere. The chorus of their own cameras dashed my hopes of snapping shots at that moment. So I moved to the side while they listened to their guide. Then every single one of them wanted a picture of the sculpture with no one else in it AND one with them in it. I just don’t understand the Japanese and why their cameras are super glued to their hands. If someone could explain this phenomenon to me, I’d appreciate it. (I’m looking at you, Bonnie [not sure you’re alive anymore] and Hutchings.)

Japan left the area and so this girl, who also stood patiently and waited to take some photos, and I were about to get to work when ANOTHER group of Japanese came over. The guide jumped in front of me just as I was about to take a picture. I looked up from my camera and glared at her, and she had the nerve to say “Quickry!” I stood there and took my photos, and I was trying to flee Japan when I noticed that I was about to walk in front of the other girl who had not yet finished getting the pictures she wanted. So I stopped and waited so she could finish, and this short lady poked me sternly on the arm and motioned for me to move. I glowered at her and said, “I was here first. You can wait!” She looked a little taken aback, but it was a rewarding moment for me. I felt good.

Saturday, Nathan and I stayed in Yolande’s apartment and had a CD burning fest. Yolande was in Belgium for the day, and a day in Paris isn’t the same if all three of us aren’t together. By the end of the day, I had eight new CDs for 15€. We ate crap and watched our favourite television program, Star Academy. I have mentioned our addiction to the show in previous letters. The whole night we sat there praying that George-Alain (G-A) would not win. (It was a semi-final, and Houcine and G-A were competing to go up against the best girl. G-A cannot sing or dance, and he has the worst attitude. I still have no idea how he had gotten so far in the competition. I was going to be done with Star Academy if he won.) To show our faith, we even called in to vote. Yolande got in just in time to watch the last hour with us. It was a nail-biter, but in the end, common sense prevailed. G-As ugly mug was gone. Houcine won. (He has already gotten a deal to sing in the French version of some Disney movie.)

Sunday was a typical day for the three of us. We ate. We ate a lot. Yolande’s landlady invited us over for lunch. We had pierrade, which is a meal where everyone sits around a hot, stone grill and cooks meat. There was turkey, duck (blech!), beef, and lamb. We had tomatoes and salad to go with it. It was sooo good. The best thing is that I could cook my meat as long as I wanted. I haven’t eaten very much meat at all over here since the French like to eat it while blood is still coursing through it. Later that evening, we had dinner with Yolande’s aunt. We had a ton of food: lots of meat, mounds of rice, sauce, plantain and salad. By the end of the night, I thought I was going to explode. I don’t ever want to eat that much food again. We went to church, too.

Now I’m back in Pontcharra again, and working with the kids is fun. But nothing very exciting happens here. I think I should rob a bank or something so that these people will have something to talk about. Yesterday I was talking to one of the professors, and she was telling me about this chain of stores that is owned by fundamentalist Muslims. Women can’t enter the store without a veil on their heads. I don’t understand how they think they can invoke such a rule since this is a free country and their store is a public place. I think I should start something here in Pontcharra by walking in without a veil.

Next week’s letter: “How Carrie riled a closet-fundamentalist Muslim community in peaceful Pontcharra.”

Have a good week, and remember that keeping your mouth shut never got nobody nowhere.

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