Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Le colis/The Package

My sister sent me a package and Paula decided that we should write a story.

Le colis
The Package

Un colis est sur la table!
A package is on the table!

Je l'ouvre.
I open it.

Des bagels!

Je regarde ce qu'il y a dans ce colis...
I look at what's inside this package...

Une fleur (pour Paula).
A flower (for Paula).

Des bonbons d'Halloween!
Halloween candy!

Ma ceinture abandonnée!
My abandoned belt!

Mes lunettes du soleil que je viens de retrouver!
My sunglasses that I got back!

Des chaussettes Bob l'eponge.
SpongeBob socks.

Un tee-shirt "it's time to be a Sun Devil."
A t-shirt -- "it's time to be a Sun Devil."

Je le retourne.
I put it back.

Une carte.
A card.
The End.

de Paula et de Katrina
by Paula and Katrina

Monday, November 28, 2011

Un vrai beginner

In the past week I have seen two exceptional movies: Un homme, un vrai and Beginners.

I would highly recommend both of them. The first is in French and the second is in English.

Both are love stories and both are what one would call artsy. There's even a little bit of singing in the first.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Turkey Day Part III: Pierrelatte Style

As I mentioned, Friday night I was lucky enough to get together with the other assistants in Pierrelatte for a Thanksgiving dinner along with many of the professors that they work with. Despite being in France and eating rotisserie chicken instead of turkey, this may have been one of my most authentic Thanksgiving experiences ever.

The food was delicious. I can't remember the last time I had a Thanksgiving where everything was made from scratch and ohmygoodness does it make a difference. My tastebuds were in a magical, savory heaven.  

Mashed potatoes, stuffing, chicken, and green beans

Pumpkin pie, pecan pie, tiramisu, and whipped cream
My fellow assistants have impressive cooking skills. I wish I could say that I helped out or even did some dishes, but that would be a lie, because shortly before heading over to Pierrelatte for the dinner, I took another cough drop and ended up completely losing my voice. My throat didn't hurt anymore, but my vocal cords also couldn't function properly, so every syllable I uttered sounded like my last -- the only 'help' anyone wanted from me was to not breathe on anything.

We were about sixteen in total and still ended up having enough food left over to last several meals. We ate pie for breakfast the next day, and I decided to take that as a sign that we were celebrating the holiday right.

After the meal, the German assistant brought down his guitar and we all sang along to different songs in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and even a little Yiddish. It's hard to describe just how cool that experience was, so I don't think I'm even going to try aside from mentioning that my voice started feeling better by the end.

The next day a few of us decided go for what turned out to be quite a long walk because we felt guilty for our return to American, gluttonous tendencies. How do you explain to Europeans that guilt and a stomachache is just a part of American holidays?

We walked to a park, down to the other end of Pierrelatte, to the Carrefour, and then back to their residence at the lycee to eat a light dinner, play scrabble, and watch a Muppet Family Christmas before calling it a night.

A panther statue in the park

Cat slide

Bench in the middle of nowhere

A blurry me on the bench

Note the nuclear plant on the other side of the trees

Friday, November 25, 2011

French Music Friday -- Vol. 3: Jeanne Moreau

From what I've been told, Jeanne Moreau is much better known for being an actress than a singer. I won't pretend to be an expert on French cinema, since the only role I recognized on her imdb filmography was her as the old lady in Ever After

I've listened to this record four or five times in the past couple of weeks and love it. 

Happy Friday!

Turkey Day Part II

Happy Thanksgiving! I am so grateful for my family, friends, the opportunities I've had, the generous people I've met here in France, my upcoming trip home for Christmas, and technology. It would have been a sad Thanksgiving indeed if not for the internet and skype.

On Wednesday I had the Thanksgiving dessert gouter with another American family and the other families that live in their building. We had pumpkin pie, cheesecake, carrot cake, banana bread, cranberries, popcorn, and cider, and I brought home some leftover cheesecake and carrot cake for my host family to try. They weren't crazy about the concept of carrot cake but cheesecake is right up their alley.

My actual Thanksgiving day did not start out well at all. I've been coming down with a sore throat for the past couple of days now and yesterday I could barely speak when I first woke up. I had to go teach in the morning, so I chugged some tea and managed to find a single Hall's cough drop in my toiletries bag before heading out the door and resolving to go to a pharmacy and get some cough drops afterward. 

Work was entertaining because, as I've mentioned before, French people know next to nothing about Thanksgiving. I had my CE2/CM1 (3rd/4th grade) classes make paper turkeys and write what they are thankful for on the feathers. A few of them were still a bit confused about the point of the task even after I'd explained that it was a very typical Thanksgiving activity for kids in the US, so it was pretty funny to me when their teacher just told them "Taisez-vous" ("Shut up") and that "today they're pretending to be Americans." Then one kid, a trouble-maker by French standards but to me just a regular silly boy, decided he would color the feathers with green and orange polka-dots and blue stripes. The teacher just rolled his eyes at him like he was a hopeless case, but I thought it was creative and asked him if he was making an alien turkey -- he thought that was pretty hilarious and kept calling me over to check his progress on the "dinde ovni." 

I went straight from work down to the pharmacy to pick up some cough drops but I couldn't find them and when I asked for help, it turns out they keep the cough drops in the back (?). So the lady brought out this box and warned me not to take more than four to six in one day, so then I was a little confused. What kind of cough drops need to be kept in the back and have specific dosage guidelines? 

It turns out that these are no ordinary cough drops. In my opinion, they didn't actually do much to soothe my throat. I still felt congested and although my throat didn't hurt per se, it was slightly numb along with the back of my tongue and having had negative experiences with oral surgery and numbing in the past, I don't associate numbness with happiness.

I spent most of my Thanksgiving coughing, reading, waiting for my family to wake up to talk to me on skype, and sitting directly next to the radiator. Everyone seems to think it's their job to tell me that the weather is usually much, much colder this time of year, but that doesn't make me feel any warmer.

That afternoon I did a google search for how to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade online and did a small victory dance when I found it on earthcam. Unfortunately, they make the parade look way more exciting on TV than it actually appears to be in person, but Mindy recorded it so I'll be able to watch it with her and my mama when I go back. It's just not the same without seeing the Broadway numbers and other performances. I did get to see the giant balloons though before I got bored and turned it off.

Sock monkey

Uncle Sam

Sponge Bob

Energizer bunny

Dough boy

Ice cream cone?

Ronald McDonald



Chatouille decided to watch the parade with me, but I think all she really wanted was to be in the room where the radiator was on full blast. And to add to my sore throat by aggravating my allergies.

Around 9 am Arizona time my parents put on skype so I got to spend Thanksgiving breakfast with everyone, chatting and being jealous of their bagels and cream cheese.

Today I'm off to Pierrelatte for a French/Friendsgiving with the other language assistants and then a day trip Saturday. We're substituting rotisserie chicken for turkey but at least there will be mashed potatoes!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Val des Nymphes

Two weekends ago we went for a hike/long walk to the Val des Nymphes, a beautiful place with a fresh spring. You really do expect nymphs to be just hanging out.

Ancient church

I still can't get over seeing natural green foliage every day.